A Long Island couple has been arrested and accused of leaving their four children home alone without food or heat for nearly a week. Tulio Ayala, 34, and Maria Ayala, 31, have been charged with endangering the welfare of their children—ages 15, 13, 8, and 4—all so the couple could "work out their marital issues." But the Ayalas claim they've been sold down the river by the children's grandmother.

"We were having marital problems, and so I told my mom, 'I'll be back in a few days—can you watch them?'" Tulio told CBS yesterday. "And you know, she said she was fine with it. I left them with money in my own house, and she lives in the basement and everything, so they were not unattended." The couple added that they left $100 dollars, food stamps and space heaters for the kids.

Whatever plans Tulio thought he had with his mother apparently didn't work out for her: they told CBS that grandmother was the one who called police, telling them the children had been left home alone. "She never called or attempted to text me, and said look, 'I don’t want to watch them,'" Tulio said. "I would have come home."

Police say neighbors also reported the children were home alone, that the Ayalas were rarely home, that the grandmother worked a lot, and that the kids were using the oven for heat. "You can tell when somebody needs something, and the little girl, Sasha — which is my sweetheart; they all are - she would always tell me they were, 'I’m hungry,' and I would always, just, you know, give her stuff," neighbor Cathy Martin said. "I didn’t know it was to this level."