Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

July 25, 2013

Women face charges in child neglect cases

By Michael R. Moser

— One woman has been arrested and a second women remains at large after Crossville Police were called to investigate two separate incidents of child neglect or child endangerment last week, according to police reports.

In both cases the Department of Children's Services was called in to investigate the case. In one case, custody of two males were turned over to the father, while in the other case, the children involved were taken into custody by DCS.

Erica Mae Howard, 23, 15 Poplar St., was arrested on a charge of child neglect following an incident last Wednesday that took place in the parking lot of the In and Out Tobacco and Beverage store off Elmore Rd., according to Ptl. Camden Davis' report.

In the other case investigated at the Inn of the Cumberlands off Hwy. 70 W, the mother of two young children is being sought on charges of child endangerment after the two were found hungry and abandoned.

Howard was taken into custody and her children released to the custody of the children's father after a three-month-old child was taken by ambulance to Cumberland Medical Center. The child and a three-year-old had been left in the family car while the mom entered the tobacco shop to make a purchase.

When the mom returned to the car, she found the baby with blood on its face and called the ambulance. She told investigators she had only been in the store for "a few minutes," but witnesses said she had been in the store for at least ten minutes or more, leaving the two children in the car in 90 degree weather.

Det. Elizabeth Henshaw was called to CMC to investigate the incident as well as a DCS caseworker during which time it was decided to charge the mom and turn the children over to their father.

In the second incident that occurred Friday at the Inn of the Cumberlands, police were called to the scene after two children — ages seven and nine — reportedly were going from room to room looking for their mother and asking for something to eat.

Police arrived on the scene and were told by the siblings that their mother had left two hours earlier, leaving the kids alone in the motel room with no food to eat. Both added that they had not eaten that day. The report filed by Davis was timed at around 9 p.m.

Both children said their mother left "to go to a bar or do drugs with a friend," Davis wrote in his report. During the investigation, the 28-year-old mom's mother arrived from Harriman and told police that her daughter had called her to go to the Crossville motel to retrieve the children because she was leaving for three days.

A DCS caseworker arrived on the scene and following a short interview with the children, determined they had been abandoned and the two were placed into custody of DCS. They were then transported to the House of Hope and a warrant for child abuse/neglect/endangerment was issued for the mom, who had not been located at the time of the report.