Two 4-year-old twin boys were found walking a Bradenton street late Tuesday after their father left them unattended outside a Oneco residence, deputies said.
The youngsters were "in hysterics" when a woman saw them in front of her residence, at 300 60th Ave. E., about 10:15 p.m., deputies said. The woman, Kimberly Todd, called authorities.
The children could provide deputies with only their first names. They told investigators their father left them outside a home and went inside. Eventually, the children wandered off and became lost, the sheriff's office said.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said deputies searched the neighborhood to find the parents but were unsuccessful. Several hours passed before the mother, Alvina Blackball, called the sheriff's office Wednesday morning to report that her children were missing.
The mother told deputies she left the children with the father, Dominick Hawkins, while she went out to do laundry. Everyone was gone when she returned, deputies said.
"Deputies were told the father has a drug problem," sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow said in a news release.
Hawkins hasn't been located, a capias request for child neglect has been prepared, the sheriff's office said.
The boys remained in protective custody Wednesday morning.
The investigation is ongoing.