Courtesy Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office
March 09, 2012 04:50 PM

An 11-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother were discovered living in an abandoned, dilapidated bus on Wednesday, and now their imprisoned mother is speaking out about her decision to place them under those living conditions.

“We moved from an apartment into the bus to conserve funds, but then we were arrested,” Sherrie Shorten explained to the Houston Chronicle on Thursday from jail.

“There was no smell when we lived there.”

When the window-blocked vehicle covered in trash was found in the woods, officials say the seats had been removed to accommodate a mattress and bunk beds. The bus was equipped with electricity, water and a small bathroom. A nearby shack contained a refrigerator that held a small amount of food.

“We were trying to keep them in their normal routine, around the toys, clothes and home that they knew,” Shorten says of herself and her husband, who is also in prison – both for embezzling money from Hurricane Ike victims. “When we left, the bus was clean and did not reek of anything.”

Shorten, who says she educates her daughter via mail from jail, adds, “I want my kids back. I am being released April 5 and was looking forward to being reunited and making a fresh start.”

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