ST. GEORGE — A Washington City woman was charged with felony reckless neglect of a child Tuesday, after family members called police after finding a three-year-old in the front yard of a residence, and were unable to locate the toddler’s mother.
According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest, officers were dispatched to a residence in Washington City on the evening of June 26 to conduct a welfare check on a 3-year-old after a family member found the toddler in the front yard alone and unsupervised.
Washington City Police Lt. Kory Klotz told St. George News that a family member who lives nearby saw the toddler outside when they drove by the residence. When the relative pulled in front of the residence and knocked on the front door, they got no answer and called police.
Klotz added the suspect was likely inside of the residence when the family member first knocked but didn’t come to the door until the officer arrived a short time later.
The family member also contacted another relative who came to the home to pick the toddler up, the report states.
The relative told arriving officers that she found the boy outside without any shoes on and clothing inside-out, leading them to believe the boy dressed himself.
Responding officers found a number of empty alcohol bottles strewn across the yard as they made their way to the front door of the residence, as well as broken glass on the driveway and across the yard, “where the child was reportedly found playing,” the officer noted in charging documents filed with the court.
“As I was walking up to the front door I stepped on multiple pieces of broken glass,” the officer wrote.
After the officer knocked several times, the child’s mother, identified as 29-year-old Stacia Mitchell, opened the door and, according to the officer, “appeared to be confused as to why I was there.”
When the officer asked Mitchell where her child was, she said she “had no idea,” and when the officer questioned her further, she told police she had a medical issue that caused her to sleep and “forget large portions of her day.” However, she refused to be seen by emergency medical personnel who arrived at the scene minutes later, the statement said.
When the officer asked Mitchell if she knew what time it was while they were talking, she replied by saying she did not know “but estimated it was between 7 and 9 p.m.,” the officer noted, adding that it was 9:15 p.m. when the conversation with the suspect took place. Officers asked Mitchell what time she had seen her son last, but she was unable to provide a specific time and could only answer by saying “today.”
The suspect was arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility facing one third-degree felony count of child abandonment.
Authorities also contacted the Division of Children and Family Services and reported the incident, as is required of officers whenever the welfare and safety of a child is involved, Klotz said, adding that the agency was also advised that the toddler was being cared for by a relative.
Family services told St. George News the agency cannot release any information on any cases handled by the agency.
On Tuesday, the Washington County Attorney’s Office charged the suspect with third-degree felony count of intentional or reckless abuse or neglect of disabled child, due to the toddler’s age.
Mitchell was released from jail that same day and was scheduled to make an initial appearance in 5th District Court Aug. 24, which was canceled that same day.
Washington County Prosecutor Ryan Shaum said it is set to be rescheduled since the suspect was no longer in custody, making an expedient appearance less likely as it moves through the courts.
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