Jackson County couple charged with child neglect after toddlers allegedly found near dangerous materials
Authorities say two children -- ages 2 and 3 -- were found playing alone near an industrial area, not far from anhydrous ammonia tanks.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Authorities in Indiana have arrested a Jackson County couple after they say two toddlers were found playing alone near a hazardous area -- an area that included access to several dangerous materials.
According to a probable cause affidavit, the incident took place on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 6, near the corner of S. Depot Street and W. Walnut Street, in Brownstown, Ind.
Authorities say the two children -- a 2-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl -- were playing alone in a gravel lane near a wooded area and a large field near the Jackson Jennings Co-op, which, according to the probable cause affidavit, "contains large equipment, chemicals, outbuildings, and many other hazards to small, unsupervised children."
Police say the children were about 35 yards from their home and were seen trying to flip over a desk laying in the yard, as well as playing with a stroller.
"From their furthest point of travel, they were less than 100 yards from the nearest anhydrous ammonia tank, and other equipment," the probable cause affidavit states. "This lane is also frequently traveled by semi-tractor trailers hauling into and out of Co-op."
When an officer approached the children, they ran into a nearby home. The officer followed the children inside and asked where their mother was. According to the affidavit, the children pointed to the bedroom, and the officer found two people, 23-year-old Natasha Owens and 23-year-old William Ray Johnson, asleep in the bed.
Police say the 2-year-old boy was the child of Owens and Johnson, and the 3-year-old girl was Owens' niece.
According to the affidavit, police woke Owens and Johnson, and Owens told them that the children had been asleep.
Shortly thereafter, police say they began to take pictures of the interior of the home. The probable cause affidavit details what was allegedly found there:
The back door of the residence was able to be secured, but was not equipped with child safety equipment. While there, I observed [one of the children] operate the locks several times successfully. I observed dog feces by the back door. Also by the back door and within reach of the children was exposed wiring hanging out of the wall attached to a light switch. The bathroom was inside the back door and to the west. The toilet in the bathroom did not have a lid on the tank portion and was constantly running. The kitchen area to the east and in the center of the house had several plates of food had mold on it. Above the kitchen counter and near the sink the electrical panel was missing the cover and wires were exposed and hanging out of it. In the living room, furniture blocked the front door, leaving only the rear door to exit the residence.
Police say the 3-year-old girl shared a room with her mother, who was at work at the time.
"The bedroom did not have any type of floor covering, leaving only exposed plywood sub-floor," the affidavit explains. "The bed in the room did not have a mattress on it and items were strewn all over the floor."
While the photos were being taken, Johnson allegedly came out of the bedroom and began swearing at police. He then allegedly tried to walk out of the home, despite an officer's demand that he stop. When the officer grabbed his arm, Johnson allegedly swatted him away.
At that point, the officer tased Johnson, but the taser failed, and Johnson pulled the wires out, according to the affidavit.
As Johnson walked out of the home, the officer demanded that he get down on the ground, but he refused, according to court documents. The officer eventually took him to the ground and subdued him.
Police arrested Owens and Johnson, charging them with neglect of a dependent.
Johnson was also charged with disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement. According to the affidavit, the deputy driving Johnson to the jail had to stop his vehicle, "due to William getting out of control" during the trip, and other officers had to assist. Once at the jail, police say Johnson had to be placed in a restraint chair.
Both suspects are currently being held in the Jackson County Detention Center.
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