WEST JORDAN -- Two young children, ages 2 and 3, are in state custody for now as the Division of Child and Family Services investigates why the young girls were wandering outside Monday night in the cold.
West Jordan police got a call around 9:30 Monday night from a concerned citizen who saw the girls walking down the street near the busy intersection of 7800 South and the Old Bingham Highway.
Officer Dan Roberts says they responded and found the girls inside a nearby Artic Circle Restaurant, where the staff had given them some ice cream and other treats until their parents could be found.
"They seemed to be content," said Roberts. "They told the officer they came to play in the playground."
He also said the 3-year-old told police her age and name, but not much else. The 2-year-old simply held up two fingers when asked how old she was.
Police say the girls appeared to be cold and lost, but on a mission for the indoor playground.
Roberts said, "They weren't wearing winter clothing and they appeared to be disheveled."
Police were unable to track down where the girls had come from, so the two spent the night with DCFS workers.
It wasn't until Tuesday morning that their mother realized they were even gone.
"We received a call from a panicked mother about 6:30 that claimed that her two children were missing," Roberts said.
The mother apparently went to check on the two girls, and they were gone. The mother was working late Monday night, and her other daughter, a 13-year-old, was left in charge at home.
"She told the officers this morning that her other 13-year-old child was watching the children," said Roberts. "When she returned from work late last night she believed all was well and went to bed."
Police think the young girls got out of the house through a back sliding door that has a broken lock. The girls then crossed a street and walked about a block to the restaurant.
It's unclear when DCFS will finish its investigation and whether or not the kids will soon be back at home.
A man who says he is the children's uncle told KSL Newsradio they actually are 3-year-old twins. He described them as a "handful."
The uncle, who did not wish to be identified, said their older sister usually babysits them by sleeping by their door. The man told KSL's Nightside in this case, that didn't stop them.
"They got the door open, they stepped over their sister, closed their bedroom door and went downstairs," the uncle said.
He said the twins had to clear another obstacle to escape the home.
"The sliding door has a dining room table pushed in front of it, four chairs blocking it - and they got through this little barricade, flipped a little switch and got out," he said. "This is the first time it's ever happened."
The uncle said usually the twins just ransack the refrigerator.
The mother was expected in court for a hearing Wednesday.