Palm Coast, FL - The mother of a 3-year-old boy found unsupervised in the "B" section of Palm Coast is charged with Child Neglect without Great Bodily Harm. Flagler County Sheriff's deputies say 28-year-old Tessie Clark found them while they were going door-to-door trying to find the boy's parents.
The child was found by a concerned citizen yesterday (February 16) just after 1 p.m. They called 9-1-1 to report the toddler walking with a dog in the area of Belleaire Drive and Beechwood Lane, not far from Belle Terre Parkway. That person waited with the child until deputies arrived.
As there were no missing child reports in the area, deputies went door-to-door to locate someone responsible for the child. That's when Clark walked up to them to report her missing son. She told them she was cleaning the house while the child played out in the yard. She did not notice when he got out of the yard.
An investigation of the home found, per a press release, that it smelled of freshly burnt marijuana and was extremely messy and dirty with old food on the floors and in complete disarray. There was no indication of anything being cleaned in the home and the disarray appeared to be how the house was kept."
They found that the fence around the backyard was also in bad shape as it was leaning in areas and had a panel missing. The report states that the yard did not appear suitable for a 3-year-old due to having holes in the ground, loose concrete blocks, an adult trampoline, and other debris and child hazards.
Deputies determined that the toddler was wandering alone for at least an hour but there's no sure way to know how long he was out. The Department of Children and Families was contacted and responded to the residence immediately. Clark has bonded out of jail.
“We’re very thankful to the witnesses who came forward and called us when they saw this small child alone in the street,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Luckily the child did not wander onto Belle Terre Parkway or we could have had a much more tragic outcome. I hope DCF is able to teach the parents proper parenting skills and how to be responsible parents to their children.”