Mother of missing 3-year-old arrested for neglect; toddler tests positive for amphetamine

Brandon Stratton, 3, was found hours after being reported missing last week, St. George, Utah, Oct. 18, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the St. George Police Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE Multiple felony charges were filed against Jennifer Rose, the mother of the toddler who went missing Oct. 18, an incident that triggered a massive multi-agency search before the child was walked into the police station by a concerned family friend.

Booking photo of Jennifer Rose, 38, of St. George, Washington County, Utah, Oct. 25, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Rose, 38, was arrested Thursday and appeared in court Friday on four third-degree felony charges, including one count of abuse or neglect of a disabled child; two counts of causing or permitting a child or vulnerable adult to be exposed to a controlled substance, and one count of possession of marijuana.

She was also charged with one class A misdemeanor for possession of paraphernalia.

Court records reveal that the offense of abuse or neglect of a child with a disability arises from Rose allegedly neglecting the the 3-year-old child, who is considered disabled due to his age.

The drug charges were enhanced due to the house being a drug-free zone with children living in it. There was also a 6-year-old in the home.

The charges stem from an incident Oct. 18 when police were called by a family member who reported that Brandon Stratton, 3, was missing, followed a few minutes later by a call from Rose, the boy’s mother.

Officers responded to the residence on South Main Street for the missing child report and searched inside for the toddler.

Read more: MISSING: Toddler missing from home near downtown St. George

During the search, Rose did not initially consent to the officers searching either the master bedroom or the garage, and only later were police able to enter those areas and determine the toddler was not there.

During an initial interview, police say, Rose told the officers she spent the previous day searching for an apartment in Mesquite and became stranded there after a friend drove back to St. George in her vehicle. She returned home at 3 a.m. the following day, finding both children asleep on the couch.

Rose told officers that she had a babysitter for the children while she was in Mesquite, and was “adamant that both of her kids were home when she got home” at 3 a.m., according to court records.

Later that morning, Rose claimed she could not find Brandon, and that her 6-year-old did not know where the boy was.

Further into the interview, Rose told police she was robbed twice and her car was stolen while she was in Mesquite, claiming that none of the events were drug-related.

Concerned, officers requested to have her cell phone analyzed to see if there was any information that could help them find the child, a request Rose did not consent to, leading officers to obtain a search warrant for her phone.

All the while, officers and detectives were conducting a massive search to find the toddler, while the Center for Missing and Exploited Children was contacted by police and arrangements for on-site assistance were being made through Team Adam.

As the search was nearing its fifth hour, the child was brought to the police department by a family friend after hearing that the boy had been reported missing and that police were looking for him.

Read more: FOUND: Missing toddler found safe

The woman told officers that she went to the residence on the night Rose was in Mesquite and Brandon opened the door to let her in shortly before midnight.

The woman described the home being “thrashed” with moldy clothes throughout the home and drug paraphernalia, including hypodermic needles located within reach of the children. Fearing for the children’s safety, she took Brandon to her residence, telling police she did not take the older child because he was asleep.

During  a followup interview with police, Rose admitted she had gone to Mesquite to have sex with a man in return for money and to get drugs, which the analysis of her cell phone confirmed. It also revealed that the money for the drugs was stolen and subsequently caused the delay in her return to St. George.

Officers found conditions similar to what the family friend described during a search of the residence, where they found moldy food and clothes inside the home and hypodermic needles in Rose’s bedroom, as well as in the children’s closet, which the defendant admitted she used to shoot methamphetamine, according to court records.

Both children were removed from the home by the Department of Children and Family Services. A drug test performed on Brandon was positive for amphetamine.

Bail was set at $15,000 due to the nature of the offenses that were allegedly committed while on probation for a 2016 drug case.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • youcandoit October 26, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    I feel bad for the children

  • Kilroywashere October 26, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    Yes drug addiction is a disease. Let’s not go there – again. Rehab; Children need family members to take over, or sadly default to public services. Rock bottom is rock bottom. Good luck, but odds are against you. Time to find God with a capital G.

  • Carpe Diem October 27, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Talk about hitting a wall. So glad the kids came out unscathed. She unfortunately doesnt seem able to care for children… I expect them to be fostered / adopted?
    Can’t see them being placed back with this woman.

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