ELIZABETHTON — A Hampton man was arrested Tuesday after a Carter County deputy found his three preschool-age children wandering through their neighborhood with little clothing and without supervision.
Anthony Joseph McDaniel, 27, 122 Ed Stout Road, Hampton, was arrested on three counts of felony child neglect.
The arrest came after Deputy Chad Grindstaff responded to a complaint about 4:30 p.m. about two small children playing in a creek that runs along Ed Stout Road. While en route, 911 received another call from nearby Carl Smith Road about a naked toddler standing in the middle of the road.
Grindstaff went to investigate the second complaint and spoke with Kathy Banner, who told him she was sitting in her living room and looked out the door and saw the little girl standing in the middle of the road without any clothes on. The child was covered in dirt and mud.
Banner went to get the 3-year-old girl out of the road and brought her up to her porch and covered her with a towel. Banner and the girl sat on the porch until Grindstaff arrived.
Grindstaff attempted to speak to the little girl to find out where she lived. He said the girl did not speak very well and could not tell him how to get to her home. Grindstaff then asked Banner if she would assist him in trying to find the girl’s residence.
They then drove to Ed Stout Road to speak with the first complainant and possibly get a clue to the child’s residence. When he reached the call’s location, Grindstaff talked with Joe Morgan, Maxine Clark and Shirley Herbert, who said they had seen two small children playing at the creek.
Clark said just prior to Grindstaff’s arrival, the two children had begun walking up Ed Stout Road with a child’s stroller.
Grindstaff and Banner then began to cruise Ed Stout Road hoping the girl would recognize her home and that they might also find the other children.
They came across a 5-year-old boy with mud on him playing in the yard at 122 Ed Stout Road. Banner and Grindstaff spoke to the boy and he identified the girl as his sister. Grindstaff also found the other child that witnesses had seen, a 2-year-old who was also a sister to the other children. Grindstaff said she was “covered in mud, wearing only a diaper and T-shirt.”
The children’s father, McDaniel, came out onto the lawn and spoke with Grindstaff, who contacted the Department of Children’s Services.
When the case workers responded, Grindstaff said McDaniel told them he had gone to the bathroom, and the children slipped out the door.
Grindstaff placed McDaniel under arrest, and after reading him his rights, Grindstaff asked McDaniel what had happened. He said McDaniel told him he had worked seven straight 12-hour days and had fallen asleep while leaving the children unsupervised. He said he woke and found the children missing and started looking for them as Grindstaff drove up. Grindstaff said 40 minutes had elapsed from the time he received the first complaint until he located the first child.
McDaniel was charged with three felonies because all three children were under 6 years old.
Tuesday also was a bad day for the children’s mother, Mary McDaniel, 24. She had been arrested Monday on a charge of violation of probation and on Tuesday was sentenced to 30 days in jail. She had previously been convicted of theft under $500.
Anthony McDaniel appeared in sessions court on Wednesday. He filed a report claiming he was indigent but refused the offer of a court-appointed attorney and will defend himself. Judge John Walton reduced his bond from $22,500 to a $2,000 corporate bond. He is scheduled to answer the charges in sessions court on April 28.