Angelica Belen charged with three counts of child neglect

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- 24-year-old Angelica Belen was charged with three counts of child neglect resulting in death on Tuesday, April 16th.

Three of Belen's four children died in a house fire at 77th and Hicks in West Allis on Thursday, April 11th. They are five-year-old Nayeli Colon, and twin four-year-old brothers, Alexis and Adrian Colon. They were huddled in a bedroom under a dresser. The children died from smoke inhalation and burns.

Investigators determined the fire was electrical. It appears to have started in a light fixture mounted above the kitchen sink.

According to the criminal complaint against Belen, April 11th was her first day of work and she could not find a babysitter. The complaint indicates Belen "admitted that she locked the a bedroom. She locked the door from the outside with a deadbolt lock so the kids could not get out because she did not want them wrecking the house or going outside where the neighbors would see they were unattended and she would get into trouble. She said the only way the kids could get out of the bedroom was with a key and she was not sure where the key was."

The complaint indicates Belen left the house at 3:49 p.m. on the day of the fire. She returned home at 7:15 p.m. The complaint said, "The defendant then told police that the children were in the house but that her sister...was watching the children." Belen later admitted to police that she left the children home alone "while she went to work for three hours."

"There was just so much smoke coming out of that building. It's very sad. They were very well-behaved children. I never really saw any problems with them. I don't think it makes it any more easier to take, considering three small children have lost their lives. I think mom's at fault. I think (Child) Protective Services has failed to protect the kids in a proper way," neighbor Patrick Noonan said.

If convicted of the charges, Belen faces up to 25-years in prison and $100,000 in fines.