Mother faces neglect charge after child is found wandering

Published 9:33 am Monday, August 31, 2015

An Elizabethton woman faces a child neglect charge after police say her small child was found dirty and wandering around the apartment complex parking lot where the two live.
Officers of the Elizabethton Police Department arrested Carla Ray Wagner, 28, of 1484 Milligan Highway, Apt. 10, on Thursday morning and charged her with one count of child neglect.
Around 10 a.m. Thursday, officers went to the apartment complex at 1484 Milligan Highway after a man called 911 and said he found a small girl alone wandering in the parking lot. When officers arrived, they spoke with the man who called 911, Justin Johnson, and child.
“Mr. Johnson said he had come from his apartment and saw the child walking through the parking lot,” EPD Officer Matt Sexton said. “Mr. Johnson said the child, who appeared to be 3 or 4 years old, was wearing nothing but a soiled diaper.”
Johnson told officers he tried to find the child’s family but the girl was not able to tell him or show him where she lived.
“The child appeared to be dirty, wearing a soiled diaper and had dirt all over her face,” Sexton said. “The child’s feet were very dirty and it was evident that the child had not been bathed in some time.”
While speaking with the child, Sexton asked her where she lived and she led him to apartment 9. Sexton knocked on the door of the apartment and a woman named Tina Brummitt answered and told officers the girl lived in apartment 10 with her mother, whom she identified as “Carla.”
Sexton knocked on the door of apartment 10, but no one answered, he said.
“A moment later, at approximately 10:23 a.m., the child’s mother came walking across the parking lot from the west,” Sexton said, adding he identified her as Carla Wagner, the child’s mother.
Wagner told police she left her 4-year-old daughter inside her apartment while she visited a friend in a neighboring apartment building, Sexton said.
“Mrs. Wagner said she had left (the child) because she was still asleep,” Sexton said, adding Wagner told him she left her apartment around 8:30 to go on her visit.
With Wagner’s permission, officers went into the apartment to check on the living conditions for the child.
“Officers found the home was very unsanitary,” Sexton said. “Most of the rooms were cluttered with debris and most had dog and human feces about the floor.” Officers took photographs inside the apartment to document the conditions, Sexton added.
Officers arrested Wagner and took her to the Carter County Detention Center.
On Friday morning, Wagner appeared in Carter County General Sessions Court where an attorney was appointed to represent her and she was arraigned. Judge Keith Bowers set Wagner’s bond as a $1,000 corporate bond, which means Wagner must go through a professional bonding agency in order to post bond. She is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 5.

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