Woman arrested after autistic four-year-old girl found wandering alone

A woman was arrested after an autistic four-year-old girl was found wandering down a street in Clermont alone.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office says that on Friday, a deputy responded to the area of Drew Avenue and DeSota Street in Clermont at approximately 5:43 p.m. in reference to a call reporting that a four-year-old girl was running down the street unattended. 

Upon arrival, the deputy was said to have been flagged down to the location where the caller was able to catch up and secure the child. The arrest affidavit states that the deputy observed the four-year-old girl wearing a sleeveless blue dress and carrying a doll. The child was not wearing shoes or socks, but her dress was wet and the child had an odor of feces. 

The deputy then tries to speak with the girl to find her name and a possible address that she lived in, but according to the affidavit, she could not speak and appeared to be autistic. The deputy noted in the affidavit as well that it was 54 degrees outside, causing the child's temperature to drop, especially as her dress was wet. The child was placed in the deputy's cruiser to warm up. 

Clermont Fire Department and Lake County EMS reportedly responded to the scene and evaluated the child. The Lake County Sheriff's Office says that the child's diaper was soiled from front to back and appeared to have been so for some time. The child was cleaned and given a new diaper. 

Finally at about 7:18 p.m., the Lake County Sheriff's Office says that a black Dodge pickup truck came down the street. The female driver was looking for a child who matched the description of the girl in the deputy's cruiser. The woman also confirmed that the girl was autistic in her description.

The arrest affidavit states that the woman was allowed a few moments with the girl. Afterwards, she was read her Miranda rights and questioned by the responding deputy. She reportedly told the deputy the details of her day, including that after falling asleep, she could not find the girl later seen wandering. The woman put the other kids of the residence in her truck and began to look for the girl. 

The woman also reportedly advised the deputy that she did not call the police because the girl had never gone more than a block away during the three previous times this has happened in the last month. She admitted she bought a door chain to prevent this incident from happening again, but she had not installed it yet.

The arrest affidavit states that the woman was placed into custody for Neglect of a child without great bodily harm. Her finance arrived on scene and took custody of all the children. 

The Lake County Sheriff's Office says that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has been notified of the situation and they are planning to responded.