Teresa Betancourt, the manager of the building and next-door neighbor, often had the four children in her apartment while they played with her 8-year-old granddaughter. She said she was always giving the children food and recently threw a birthday party for the oldest girl. Sometimes the oldest son, 13, who is diabetic, said he couldnt eat the food she offered him because he didnt have any clean needles to inject himself with insulin. Basterrechea said the father used his sons needles for his heroin.
He [Orellana] was always so high he wouldnt look at you in the eye, he said. But [Garcia], she would have a conversation with you for hours. She would say stuff like, man I took a couple Xanaxes and was out of the house for two days til I woke up and found myself sleeping in the bushes.
As Basterrechea spoke, he looked around the now-vacant apartment, pointing out a broken crack pipe in the corner and an old passport on a table littered with cigarette butts and broken toys.
Most of the material had been pulled out of the trash on the street, Basterrechea said, because Orellana was always combing through other peoples garbage, a habit he passed on to his children.
The children were present at a dependency hearing on Friday afternoon, cleaned up but clearly concerned about what was going to happen to them. The judge allowed them to stay for now with their maternal grandmother.
Evelyn, the young neighbor who used to play with the Orellana children, picked through the piles of toys they left behind, sharing the names of all the dolls and promising to take care of her friends cat until they got back. The two daughters were her best friends, she said, and wanted to send them a message while they were gone:
Tell them I love them.