Alexandria mom sentenced for leaving children alone in basement for days without food

(PHOTO: Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney City of Alexandria)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Alexandria mother was sentenced to serve three years in prison for leaving her children home alone in a basement for days at a time without food.

46-year-old Patricia Gamble was convicted for cruelty to children after investigators learned Gamble left her three children, ages 12, 5, and 1, alone in a dark, filthy basement by themselves. Gamble left them for several days at a time on multiple occasions during her 2-month stay at the residence.

Prosecutors say the children were left with insufficient food and sometimes with no food at all. To survive, prosecutors say the children would sneak out of the basement and steal food from the family living upstairs. Gamble would often send text messages saying she was on the way home with food, but didn’t show up until days later.

The oldest child stayed home from school to watch after the younger children.

The 12-year-old has been removed from Gamble’s care by Child Protective Services two times before and has spent a total of six years in foster care. The 5-year-old has been removed from Gamble once and spent two years in foster care.

Previous investigations show Gamble has done this to her children before at different residences. Prosecutors say the reason Gamble moved to Alexandria was to avoid CPS authorities from the prior jurisdiction.

Upon arrest, Gamble admitted that she left her children alone and later stated that she did so because she was struggling with addiction.

Gamble was sentences to 15 years in prison with 12 years of that sentence suspended. Gamble will be on supervised probation for two years and must remain of uniform good behavior for five years. Additionally, Gamble terminated her parental rights to all three children prior to being sentenced.