An Inver Grove Heights couple face child-neglect charges for allegedly leaving the woman's three sons -- ages 3, 5 and 9 -- home alone in the middle of the night.

According to the gross-misdemeanor charges against Patrick R. Coleman, 26, and Elisha M. Coleman, 29, a woman walking her dog shortly after midnight on Nov. 3 called 911 and said she had come across a boy who appeared to be about 2 standing at the end of a driveway.

The woman asked the boy where his parents were and the boy told her "all gone," according to the criminal complaints filed in Dakota County District Court. When police arrived, the boy, who is 3, showed officers his sleeping 5-year-old brother and told them that his brother "had the 'spirit' of a 2-year-old and was autistic," the complaints said. The younger boy also showed officers his sleeping 9-year-old brother. The 9-year-old told officers that he thought his parents were sleeping and didn't know they were gone.

The complaints said the house was cluttered and dirty and had a distinct sour smell. Officers contacted the 9-year-old's biological father, who identified the mother of the boys as Elisha Coleman and the father of the two younger boys as Patrick Coleman. The eldest boy went to his father's for the night; the younger two went to their grandparents' home.

When the Colemans came home, they said they had hired someone named "Sarah" to babysit the children and "she must have left." They didn't know Sarah's last name. Later the parents admitted to police that they had left the children home alone, according to the complaints. They said they had been in Rush City, Minn., more than an hour from their home.

The Colemans were charged by summons. They will make their first court appearances in April.