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Charges not yet ruled out in case of toddler left alone in hot bedroom closet

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, May 7, 2014, at 3:26 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, May 7, 2014, at 3:29 p.m.

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Potential criminal charges haven’t been ruled out against a couple that left their 1-year-old boy alone in a hot apartment, authorities said Wednesday.

A maintenance man found the boy shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday when he came into the apartment to repair the air conditioner, said Lucy Alfaro, property manager for Twin Rivers Apartments in the 2300 block of North Somerset in north Wichita. He opened a bedroom closet to get to the breaker box and found the boy lying on the floor.

“He was just on the floor,” Alfaro said. “The closet appears to be the baby’s room.”

All lights were off, she said, and the temperature inside was about 90 degrees. The air conditioning had been out in the apartment for a couple of days.

A police officer was already at the apartment building northeast of 21st and Amidon when the boy’s 18-year-old mother returned from driving her 19-year-old husband to work. The boy was placed in the temporary custody of his grandmother and the Department for Children and Families is working with the parents to provide additional resources, police have said.

The incident “is still under review,” said Lt. Chris Bannister of the Exploited and Missing Child Unit.

The decision to place the boy with his grandmother was made by law enforcement, whose primary function is to ensure a child’s safety, Bannister said. Priority is given to other family members if a safe environment is available.

The ultimate decision on whether criminal charges are warranted rests with the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, Bannister said. He would not confirm prior police reports that the mother indicated she had routinely left the child in the closet alone while taking her husband to work.

“Everyone has different levels of comfort with kids and different values,” Bannister said. “We’re all a product of our environment.

“We have some (parents) that have less experience. The less experience you have, the bigger mistakes you can make.”

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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