Florida mom arrested after sons walk mile to Walmart on 436 alone: deputies

Tanice Spence-Clark was arrested and charged with child neglect on April 20, 2024. (Photo: Seminole County Sheriffs Office)

The 1.2-mile journey that two children made alone across State Road 436 in Casselberry led to the arrest of their mother, who allegedly left them unsupervised for about three hours. 

Tanice Spence-Clarke, 38, was arrested and charged with child neglect without bodily harm after the incident that unfolded over the weekend in Casselberry, according to an arrest affidavit from the Casselberry Police Department. 

At around 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, a woman approached a police officer because she was concerned about two boys who were left unattended at the Walmart on SR-436 in Casselberry. The kids' ages were not revealed in the arrest affidavit. 

The woman said the two kids got there about 45 minutes prior, and she even tried to contact their mother over the phone and social media profile, albeit unsuccessfully. 

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The children told the woman that the last place they saw their mother, Spence-Clarke, was a barbershop in the 900 block of SR-436, according to the affidavit. The woman said she went to the barbershop to see if the kids' mother was there, but to no avail. The barbers said the two children were there earlier after their mother dropped them off. 

Police noted that the children walked from the barbershop to the Walmart, which is 1.2 miles away. 

"The children … had to cross SR-436, a major roadway with a high volume of traffic, unattended," the affidavit said. 

The children of Tanice Spence-Clark, who was arrested for child neglect, walked unattended for 1.2 miles and had to cross busy SR-436 after they were left unsupervised for three hours, according to the Casselberry Police Department. 

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Police tried to contact Spence-Clarke, but weren't able to reach her via phone. They did, however, get in contact with who appears to be the boys' father, but he was "completely unaware" of their whereabouts, according to the affidavit. He made his way to the Walmart and gave police another phone number for Spence-Clarke, which went straight to voicemail. 

At 8 p.m., Spence-Clarke arrived at Walmart, police said. 

She was read her Miranda Rights and said she couldn't explain what had happened. According to the affidavit, she changed her story multiple times, would contradict herself or was unable to think of what to say. She also provided police with a cell phone number that no one had. 

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Spence-Clarke said she had gone to the nearby Bravo Supermarket on SR-436 to buy groceries while her children got their haircuts at the barbershop, the affidavit said. She wasn't able to provide a receipt, nor did she have any groceries in her car, according to police. 

She shared another story of how her car was having mechanical problems and she asked her sister and brother-in-law to help, which would explain the lack of groceries in her car because they were moved to a different one. 

When the brother-in-law arrived to the scene, however, he was "confused" by police's questions about the mechanical issue. He also mentioned that Spence-Clarke was at home at about 5:30 p.m. 

"Yet another contradiction to her many recollections of events, which further enhances the likelihood of her culpable negligence towards the two juveniles," the affidavit said. 

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The affidavit mentioned that Spence-Clark was in the capacity of a caregiver, but did not elaborate. 

"Spence-Clarke willfully by culpable negligence failed or omitted to provide (her two sons) with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain (her two sons') physical or mental health," the affidavit said. "By leaving (her two sons) unsupervised for an estimated 3 house she did not know where they were. As well as she was also unable to be contacted by employees at Walmart or law enforcement and not contacting law enforcement when she noticed that (her two sons) were missing." 

She was transported to the Seminole County Jail, and has since been released after posting $2,500 bond, court records show.