Florida mom arrested after 2-year-old found wandering alone for hours in neighborhood, deputies say

A 22-year-old mom was arrested after her 2-year-old son was found wandering in the road for hours in Flagler County, according to deputies. 

Isabella Tucci was charged with child neglect without great bodily harm after the incident that unfolded in Palm Coast on Monday, the Flagler County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. 

At around 9 a.m., Lenore Lofaro, a woman on vacation in the area, found the toddler at a parking lot entrance on Club House Drive and called the sheriff's office for help. Deputies then searched the neighborhood for any vehicles with car seats or anyone who might have been looking for the missing boy. 

"I asked him where he lives, and he started pointing to different apartments, so I started knocking on some doors, and nobody answered, so I sat with him for 45 minutes thinking someone would come and look for him. Clearly, that didn't happen," said Lofaro.

That's when deputies found a second-floor condo unit with its front door wide open. The Flagler County Sheriff's Office said the occupant of the condo was asleep. 

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The woman, identified as Tucci, said she was the mother of the toddler found wandering around the neighborhood, deputies said. She told deputies she had last seen her son at 2 a.m. when she put him to sleep, hadn't checked on him since and was asleep until deputies showed up to her home at 10:30 a.m. 

Isabella Tucci was arrested on July 1, 2024 and charged with child neglect without great bodily harm. (Photo: Flagler County Sheriffs Office)

"When asked about the last time the child had been fed, she pointed to an open box of cereal on the kitchen floor and said it was possible he had eaten it, but she was unsure because she was asleep," deputies said. "Tucci also said that her child has been able to unlock and open doors and that it has been an ongoing issue."

Deputies said Tucci's home didn't have any child-proof locks, and noted that the second-floor unit had a stairway, "an elevated fall hazard," and a canal, "a water hazard." They also found open containers of alcohol and trash and food on the floors. 

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"Additionally, the entrance to the condos – where the child was found – is located along Club House Drive, a heavy traffic thoroughfare between Palm Harbor Parkway and Palm Coast Parkway," the sheriff's office said. 

Tucci told deputies she recently tested positive for THC and alcohol a few days ago, and another on-site drug test that day revealed the 22-year-old had tested positive for methadone, a drug used for pain relief and drug addiction treatment, according to the sheriff's office. 

The Department of Children and Families has taken custody of the 2-year-old boy amid the ongoing investigation, and they're working on a parenting plan for him. 

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Tucci has since been released from the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility after posting $2,500 bond, online jail records show.  

"Obviously, this mother won’t be mother of the year unless she can turn her life around and put her child first instead of illegal drugs," Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement. "This was a very sad situation that could have turned out a whole lot worse. Thankfully, a concerned visitor ‘saw something’ and decided to ‘say something’ potentially saving a life. Parents, make sure your doors are properly secured and your homes are child proofed. Otherwise, we and DCF will get involved. Hopefully, this young mother will get the help she needs and turn her life around."