A Texas mother is behind bars after police alleged she abandoned her children for three months.
The chief of police claims the woman’s love for attention on social media helped them locate her three states away in Alabama almost half a year since the kids were left alone in their home.
Roman Forest Police Department and US Marshals Gulf Coast Violent Offender Fugitive Task Force arrested Raven Yates, who abandoned the two children, on March 8 in Mobile, Alabama.
The woman’s 12-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son were left alone in their home without adult supervision from Sept. 28 until Nov. 14, according to an RFPD news release.
The older child’s biological father discovered the children. He later reported the abandonment.
The concerned dad told authorities that he flew from his home in California to Roman Forest after being told by a family member his daughter’s mother was in Mobile without her children. For the father, this answered the question of why his daughter was regularly requesting money for food.
Roman Forest Chief of Police Stephen Carlisle said there was “no food in the house,” adding in an interview with ABC 13, “Everything was empty. There were some dry beans and spices. That was it.”
The chief said the big sister was ill-equipped to take care of her younger brother and keep up with the basic needs of the home. Investigators reported the boy’s bedroom reeked with the smell of urine.
“A 12-year-old cannot take care of a 3-year-old for a long period of time, especially over a month and a half,” Carlisle said. “It’s dangerous and irresponsible of a parent. Without medical supplies or ways to get food, that’s very dangerous.”
The daughter never told the father the two were left alone because the mother threatened her. Yates told the pre-teen her dad would take her away and leave the boy alone.
About three weeks after the father’s visit, on Friday, Dec. 8, an arrest warrant was issued for the mother, charging her with two counts of Abandon Endanger Child Without Intent to Return.
People magazine describes how law enforcement noticed after news reports and the local police department’s public notices about her disappearance Yates started to emerge on her social media — making posts that seemed to correspond with the tips shared in the media.
“She saw it, just like we figured she would, and then she started posting actively on social media because she’s that type of person that likes the attention,” said Carlisle.
Officers started to follow her account more closely and looked for clues that might lead to an arrest.
“We started getting tips — of course a lot of the tips were dead ends — but some of them actually got us closer to her,” Carlisle continued. “That final tip is what told [the US Marshals Gulf Coast Violent Offender Fugitive Task Force] where she was at.”
Yates has accumulated over 216,000 followers on Instagram, claiming she is a model, artist, actress, and owner of RY Taxed Professionals and Famouz Beauty Store. Many of the posts are provocative and show off hair and lash products. The comments consist of concerned followers, friends, and family wishing that she returns to her family or is found safe.
Law enforcement noticed that some of her posts were not promotional but featured old videos of her children to make it look as if they were with her.
“She was not with them,” Carlisle says. “Those were older pictures. We know where the kids were. The kids were with family members.”
One post made on Feb. 11 was captioned, “When you minding your own businesses and know the truth.”
Followers in her comments even theorized maybe she was in danger.
“You guys need to pay attention, possibly sex trafficking is involved and someone pretending to be her as an “active ok” person. Definitely, something to think about.”
After officers said the cupboards where the children were left were bare, Yates posted a video of a refrigerator and pantry filled with food. She also posted a clip of one child eating cereal and another with a child splashing in a pool. While some believed the posts were an attempt to convince people she was with her children, the chief believes in a strange way, the woman was playing a cat-and-mouse game with officials.
Her posting on social media and the police outreach activated the community. As tips started to flood in, the two agencies started to get closer to arresting the estranged mother.
After receiving a tip that Yates was staying with a male in a Mobile apartment complex, the US Marshals Gulf Coast Violent Offender Fugitive Task Force was able to arrest the woman on Wednesday, March 8.
Authorities state before the woman abandoned her children, an older daughter, 14, had run away. Sources now say all of Yates’ children have been reunited, staying with family members.
Currently, Yates is listed as booked in the county jail by the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.