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Carter County mother charged after young children found in school auditorium

JOHN THOMPSON • Mar 6, 2007 at 8:54 AM

ELIZABETHTON - A mother was arrested Tuesday morning after her two children were found three blocks away from home in the auditorium of T.A. Dugger Junior High School.

Jacquelyn Rose Raup McDowell, 25, 605 W. E St., No. 4B, was arrested by Cpl. Anthony Buck of the Elizabethton Police Department on two counts of attempted felony child abuse. She is scheduled to answer the charges in sessions court on March 12.

The incident began at 6:30 a.m. when school personnel discovered a 2-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl in the auditorium. EPD Deputy Chief Larry Shell said the boy was barefoot and wearing only a diaper. The girl was dressed but did not have a coat. The girl had a cut on the bridge of her nose that appeared to be several weeks old.

The school personnel took the children to the cafeteria, where they were served cereal, fruit and milk.

"The faculty got real involved with the children," Shell said. "Some went home and brought them Pampers and some clothes. They cleaned them up."

At 6:50 a.m., 911 received a call from a woman who said her children were missing. She was assured by the dispatcher that an officer was caring for the children.

Buck went to McDowell's residence. He said when he entered the apartment he had to cover his nose due to the stench.

"All the rooms in the house were deplorable (words cannot describe)," Buck said in his report. "The kitchen sink was full of dishes piled so high no more could be stacked. The electric baseboards had various items against them, which created a fire hazard. Filth throughout the floor (food, garbage, toys, clothes, cat feces). There was no bed linen on one of the children's beds, which was darkened with dirt and unknown stains."

Buck said McDowell told him she could not care for the children and keep the house clean at the same time.

Buck said he could hear a radio in McDowell's bedroom, which she said had been playing all night. Buck believed the sound from the radio is the reason the mother did not hear her children leaving.

Buck asked McDowell how the children got out. She said she had seen her daughter use an end table to stand on to unlatch the security chain and turn the dead bolt.

The Department of Children's Services took custody of the children.

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