Thursday, May 6, 2004

3-year-old wanders several blocks

Charges pending against mother

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT MITCHELL - A mother is under investigation after her 3-year-old walked into a gas station alone on Buttermilk Pike early Wednesday.

"Charges are forthcoming against the mother," said Ken Easterling, the chief prosecutor in the Kenton County Attorney's Office. "I think it is totally inappropriate behavior for a 3-year-old to be wandering around in the middle of the night. Parents need to be parents. That's the end of the story."

Fort Mitchell Police Chief Steve Hensley said the mother faces a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a minor. Hensley and Easterling said this wasn't the first time someone had reported the 3-year-old wandering around outside alone.

Easterling said officials with the Cabinet for Families and Children returned the child to the family under strict conditions. Although he wouldn't elaborate on the conditions, Hensley said the child was released to the custody of his grandmother.

The mother has not been charged.

The child was found at 6 a.m. in a gas station parking lot at the corner of Buttermilk Pike and Avon Drive. Fort Mitchell officers took the child to their station, where the 3-year-old was able to tell them where he lived.

Hensley said officers found the mother and a baby sitter asleep when they went to her apartment, several blocks from the gas station on West Chelsea Drive. He said the mother told officers the child must have walked out of the apartment after she returned home from work at 3:15 a.m. and fell asleep watching television.

"In light of the recent tragedy in Ohio, we take these cases very seriously," said Hensley. "We are going to be as proactive as we can to make sure it doesn't happen again."

A Union Township mother has been charged with felony and misdemeanor child endangering after her 3-year-old drowned in an apartment swimming pool. Police there say the child used furniture to climb out a window while his mother slept.

Authorities say it was the second time in a week the child had wandered away from the apartment on Mount Carmel-Tobasco Road.


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