A one-year-old boy found alone in a closet in a hot apartment. Mom tells police she's done the same thing on a daily basis. A day after this situation, there are no arrests and no charges in the case. It's a situation that upset many of you.
Police say the mom left the one-year-old toddler alone in a closet while she ran the boy's father to work. Maintenance men found the toddler in 90 degree heat while checking out the air conditioner. Police didn't immediately arrest her.
Tuesday, Lt. Alan Prince said, "This is an example where she just needs to be educated as a parent the right and wrongs of raising a child, which they will do, they'll make sure she gets the proper information and help she needs."
Sadly this case isn't unique. On Monday, Johnson County officers arrested a Lenexa woman for child abandonment after she left her child alone in a house. They say she expected to be gone for several hours. Tuesday, Wichita Police turned the baby boy found in the closet over to his grandparents.
In the last 24 hours we've heard from you on Facebook and Twitter and through email. You wanted to know, why there had been no arrests?
So we asked the police, the District Attorney's Office and the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF). Both police and DCF social workers tell us it's not up to them to decide.
"We wouldn't participate in whether or not the DA's office would file charges," said Brian Dempsey, DCF Director of Prevention and Protection Services. "Our role is to assess the family. and our goal is to safely keep children in the home."
In a written statement, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said his office reviews each case individually and "whether an alleged instance of neglect rises to the level of child abuse is based on the totality of the facts available."
That will most likely include an assessment from DCF social workers.
"We look at the risks that that family may be exhibiting and whether or not we can control those risks," said Dempsey. "And then, at the end of that, we look at the safety of the child."
We took a closer look at Kansas law. There is a charge called "child endangerment." It's either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstance. It says if you intentionally, recklessly cause or permit a child to be placed in a situation where their life, body or health is endangered you could be charged.
Again, it will be up to the District Attorney's Office to decide whether to do that in this case. We'll keep asking about it. Count on us to let you know what happens.
For now, the boy has been removed from his parents' custody and is staying with grandparents. Whether he is permanently removed from his parents' care would be up to the family court system to decide.