SWEETWATER - Sweetwater Police have charged 40-year-old Rhonda Mae Jenkins with two counts of child abuse and neglect.
On Sunday, July 2nd, officers found a child strapped a stroller off Mayes Avenue and Maple Street. They believe the baby boy is around one year old. He was wearing only a soiled diaper. He was also sunburned from being outside, the police report saying "the sunburn was outlined by visible marks from the stroller straps.
The boy was cleaned up and is safe and well and in custody of the Department of Children's Services.
When police went to the mother's home, she ran from them and hid in a closet "laughing and smiling".
According to records, Jenkins has a prior criminal history. In 2006, she was charged with disorderly conduct. A year later, felony theft. In 2008, Jenkins was charged with aggravated assault.
December of 2016, she was driving on a revoked license, and the next month picked up a domestic violence charge. She later failed to appear in court for those charges in February of 2017.
Jenkins remains in the Monroe County Jail on a $40,000 dollar bond.
People in the Sweetwater community are shaken.
"I think it's a shame and disgrace," Tom Ogle said.
Pat Fuller lives just blocks away from where the boy was found. She said she was disturbed to hear he was left all alone in a stroller.
"Where the baby was found... it's on top of a pretty steep hill. If that stroller would have rolled, there's no telling where it would have went," Fuller said.
This is the second case of a deserted child in Monroe County. Last week, a child was found wandering near the Madisonville City Hall around 10 p.m. July 1st. Detectives went to the boy’s home and found no one there. They described the home as “ungodly,” noting the presence of maggots, rotting food and mice scurrying around.
The mother, 30-year-old Krystal Stricklan Warwick and father, Michael Stricklan Warwick were both charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.
Authorities say the young boy is being cared for by the department of Children's Services.
To report a case of child abuse or neglect, call the Child Abuse Hotline at 877-237-0004.
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