of Public Safety
Two Orangeburg mothers are facing one count each of unlawful conduct toward a child in two separate incidents. Police allege both mothers left their children at home without adult supervision.
Both incidents occurred at apartment units at St. Paul Apartments at 500 Fletcher Street on Wednesday afternoon.
In the first incident, a mother is accused of leaving her five children alone for an hour while she went to the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Stonewall Jackson Boulevard.
According to an incident report, an unknown caller told dispatchers that a man and woman left the apartment while several small children were alone inside of it.
The report states that officers knocked on the door several times and they could hear the sounds of children playing in a room on the second floor.
A little while later, officers heard “a young child’s voice coming from the other side of the front door asking who was there.”
The officer told the child, a 7-year-old, that he was a policeman.
The child stated that the parents weren’t there and they’d instructed the child not to open the door for anyone, the report said.
The officer noted that he was able to convince the 7-year-old to walk over to the window and raise it a little so they could talk to each other.
The officer then learned that the 7-year-old was the oldest child in the apartment, the report said.
He told the child that he was there to help and needed to go inside to check on the baby.
Another officer entered the apartment and reported seeing the children inside without any adult supervision.
After officers were at the scene for about 20 minutes, the mother emerged from a vehicle. She told officers that those were her children and that she’d left them in the care of the father of the youngest child there – a 9-month-old.
She told officers that she’d walked to the store and made it to the parking lot when a friend called to tell her that police officers were at her apartment. A friend arrived and returned her to the apartment, she said.
She gave officers a phone number for “C.J.,” but when officers tried to call the number, the phone did not ring, the report states.
As the mother spoke with officers and juvenile investigators arrived, the 7-year-old began making waffles for all of the children as they each sat at the table.
A family member took temporary custody of the children with the assistance of the S.C. Department of Social Services.
In the second incident, officers reported to another apartment after dispatchers received a call from the father of three children – an 8-year-old, a 5-year-old and a 7-month-old – who were allegedly left alone in an apartment by their mother.
An aunt of the children stayed with the children until police arrived.
She told police that she went to the apartment to pick up something and knocked on the door.
The 8-year-old opened the door and let her inside, but the mother was not there, the aunt said.
The aunt tried to reach the mother on the phone, but was unsuccessful.
She then called the children’s father and he called police.
When the mother arrived, she told officers that she went to Maxway and had been gone “for three minutes,” the report states.
She then stated she was already on probation and the father of her children was trying to get her in trouble with police, the report said.
Police also noted in their report that they smelled a “strong odor of alcohol” coming from the mother.
Officers said they escorted her away from her children so they would be less traumatized when they arrested her.
If the mothers are convicted of unlawful conduct toward a child, they each face a court-imposed fine, up to 10 years in prison, or both.