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Metro Area 5-Year-Olds Found Wandering Alone in Separate Cases

30-May-2014

Most parents try to keep a watchful eye on their children, but even the most vigilant parents can discover how quickly a child can get away from them. However, often, if a child is found wandering the city streets alone, it indicates a decisive lack of vigilance. In fact, it can be an indicator of child neglect or child endangerment.

In the Oklahoma City-metro area last week, there were to separate cases involving 5-year-old boys found walking around alone. In both cases, the parents are suspected of neglect.

On Wednesday, May 21, 5-year-old Gerald Pappan wandered away from his apartment at about 7:15 in the morning. As he approached a Food Mart about a block away from his home, a woman noticed the young boy, but instead of calling police, she took the boy to her home and fed him breakfast. Police searched for the boy and finally spotted him more than an hour later, walking with the woman near the Food Mart. Police arrested Carmen McDonald on a complaint of public intoxication, saying she could also be charged with child endangerment. Del City Police Major Jody Suit said of McDonald, "No normal person is going to go pick up someone's child and take them home and feed them and keep them for an hour, hour and a half before returning them back." McDonald, also known as Carmen Velasquez, has prior convictions for DUI and domestic assault and battery.

The boy told police that when he awoke that morning, no one else was home, which is why he left the apartment. His mother, however, says that she was home asleep and woke up to find the boy missing. Police say that Gerald's parents could also face charges. The boy was taken to the hospital to be checked out, but he appeared to be fine. Considering he was picked up by a woman who was intoxicated at 7:15 in the morning and who has a criminal record for violent behavior, things could have been much worse.

The same day Gerald Pappan went for an unattended stroll in Del City, another 5-year-old boy was discovered walking alone near the busy intersection of NW 39th Expressway and Portland. Around 11:30 that morning, a woman noticed the unattended boy walking past her place of business, so she brought him inside and called police (note she did not take him to her house and feed him without telling anyone where he was). The boy told police that he had climbed out of a window at his home because he wanted to go to a friend's house. When officers took him home, they discovered his mother, 29-year-old Tegan Cronk, asleep in the living room. Police say she was sleeping near a plastic bag containing marijuana. They say the woman consented to a search of her purse, and they found more marijuana inside. 

Cronk was arrested on complaints of marijuana possession and possession of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a child. Her 5-year-old son and his two school-aged siblings were taken into DHS custody. Police reports indicate that the home was filthy, noting trash "stacked to the ceiling," food and trash on the floor, and overflowing trash receptacles.



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