A father faces multiple charges after police found him with his two young children apparently living inside a unit of a Lenexa U-Haul in Kansas Tuesday evening, authorities said.
Officers were responding to reports of someone sleeping in a storage unit when they found Justin Rey and the two children, a toddler and an infant, police said. During the investigation they also found human remains in one of the units on the property, but officials would not say whether or not there was any connection, according to KTLA sister station WDAF in Kansas City.
Police say Rey didn't have any food, diapers, or a place to sleep for the children. Rey was booked into jail in Johnson County on two counts of endangering a child and two counts of contributing to a child's misconduct.
On Friday, Justin Rey appeared in Johnson County District Court, charged in the endangerment of those children found with him in the unit.
A witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he and his wife had given Rey a ride to the storage unit and was with him when the arrest happened.
The man said they immediately noticed Rey's two baby girls -- a newborn and a toddler, appeared to be in bad shape.
"When I saw her hair when she finally took the hoodie off, it reminded me of a cancer patient that's been through treatment and hair loss," the witness said.
The couple started asking questions.
"We assumed he was probably waiting on a wife or a girlfriend or whatever," the witness said.
That woman never came because, Rey told them, she was dead.
"He told me before we left the restaurant that he lost the child's mother during childbirth, that she'd passed. And so the story is getting sadder and sadder," the witness said.
Rey said he was waiting for money from the military, and needed a ride to Union Station to take a train out of town, the man said. But first, Rey said, he needed to stop at the storage unit where he'd been staying since he'd been kicked out of his apartment for not paying rent.
"I said 'we'll take you to U-Haul, get what you need, take you to Union Station," the witness told WDAF. The pair put the baby girls in their grandkids' car seats and drove Rey to Lenexa. "We walked through the maze. I couldn't get to that unit again if I had to, going in the same door today," he said.
Rey finally opened the door to a packed storage unit and pulled out a stroller for the toddler, a gallon jug of urine, and a plastic storage bin, the witness said. "He got a big cooler ... with a handle, telescopic-type handle and pushed it out."
The witness then said he noticed a trail of brown liquid leaking from the cooler.
"I'm talking three or four puddles ... on the concrete floor of some kind of moisture," he said. "I wasn't smelling anything foreign or foul, but I wondered about that. But like I said, my mind was racing about what's in these containers."
At this point, the couple wanted out.
"I'm already committed at that time; I can't just say, 'well, never mind, just get your stuff. My wife and I are going to head on home,'" said the witness.
They walked to the sliding glass door to leave the building and suddenly came face-to-face with Lenexa police.
"The police separated us almost immediately," the witness said.
The man and his wife left as soon as police said they could, but they said the image of that leaking brown cooler and those little girls will haunt them.
"You don't forget things like that. I mean, you just don't forget things like that."
The couple told WDAF they didn't feel threatened, but they are "very concerned" now after police on scene told them they can't find the girls' mother.