Charges mulled against parent

NEW PALESTINE — Two children have been removed from their New Palestine home as investigators work to determine whether their mother neglected them.

The Indiana Department of Child Services and local police still are piecing together what happened in the moments before one of the children, age 23 months, was found walking alone in a New Palestine neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, officials said. The child and her 11-month-old sister were placed in the care of relatives Wednesday while the case remained under investigation.

The toddler was spotted Tuesday afternoon wandering in the 5100 block of Bluebell Drive in the Gem Meadows subdivision, investigators said. It took rescuers about an hour to locate the girl’s mother, who told police she didn’t realize the girl was gone but believed she walked out of the home after being put down for a nap.

Detectives and officials with the Indiana Department of Child Services spent Tuesday evening interviewing the girl’s parents to find out what happened, said Hancock County Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Rasche.

Police plan to meet with attorneys from the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office in the coming days to review the case, Rasche said. Prosecutors will make the final determination on whether criminal charges will be filed, he said.

Neighbors called 911 after seeing the child alone in the subdivision near the intersection of county roads 500W and 100S. Police began canvassing the area where she was found, hoping to find the girl’s family out looking for her, officials said.

When no family was found, Sugar Creek Township firefighters posted the little girl’s picture on Facebook with a plea for information while police began knocking on doors in the neighborhood, officials said.

The child’s mother told officers she fell asleep on the couch after putting the little girl down for a nap, police said. The girl must have climbed out of her crib and walked out of the home, her mother told investigators.

The girl had not wandered far, dispatch records show; her home was located in the same block of Bluebell Drive where she was found.

Police have not released the mother’s name, citing the ongoing investigation.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.