FORT WALTON BEACH - May 15, 2020 - According to an online news report published on NWFDailyNews.com, a 58-year-old woman from Fort Walton Beach, Florida, was arrested and charged with child neglect- According to the news article and a report from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, deputies discovered a 6-year-old girl who was covered with fleas and flea bites. Upon further investigation, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies found the house littered with dog feces.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies served the 58-year-old woman Fort Walton Beach woman with a warrant on May 1, 2020, according to an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office press release. The arrest record stated that on April 22, 20202, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call and were dispatched to the suspect´s home located on Camellia Drive. The report stated the 6-year-old girl locked the suspect outside of their home.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the suspect´s home and entered the suspect´s home in accordance with the warrant. The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies found a little girl hiding inside a bedroom closet. The 6-year-old girl was found scratching herself and covered with fleas and flea bites. An Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputy reported that he was immediately covered in fleas upon entering the home. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies reported that there were three dogs inside the home. One of the dogs found is a 17-year old dog that was unable to walk, and the dog was covered with flies.
The condition of the home was noted by law enforcement. According to the report, the home was covered with dog urine and feces. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies noted that the piles of dog feces had footprints pushed in them. Also, the dog urine puddled up in various places throughout the home, according to the suspect´s arrest report. The news report states that the home had an “abundance of flies,” there were several knives that were within the child’s reach in the kitchen, and chemicals left on top of the kitchen counters. The sheriff´s deputies also discovered that the little girl´s bedroom only had a bare mattress with a hole that exposed the bed´s inner springs. The suspect placed blame on to the little girl for the horrific condition of her bedroom, according to the news report.
The suspect stated to Sheriff´s deputies that she maintained a clean home, and the suspect blamed the little girl for the home´s condition and safety issues. When the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies informed the suspect that the little girl was being removed from the home and the suspect´s care, the suspect displayed no reaction, according to deputies. However, the suspect expressed concern about being able to make arrangements for the care of her dogs, according to the report.
Florida Statute §827.03(2)(d)
According to Florida Statute 827.03(2)(d), Child Neglect is defined as a caregiver who culpably and willfully neglects a child under their care. It is a crime in the State of Florida when a caregiver does not provide a child with the supervision, services, and essential care essential to maintain a child´s mental and physical health. Also, it is Child Neglect if the caregiver fails to take reasonable actions to protect the child from neglect, exploitation, or abuse by someone else.
Child Neglect is either a second- or third-degree felony in the State of Florida. A Child Neglect charge rises to a second-degree felony if the child receives a permanent disfigurement, permanent disability, or the neglect has caused the child great bodily harm. A third-degree felony conviction is punishable by up to five (5) years of probation, five (5) years in prison, and a $5,000 fine. A second-degree felony conviction is punishable by up to fifteen (15) years of probation, fifteen (15) years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.