Parents charged with child abuse

Published 11:03 am Monday, November 28, 2011

MURFREESBORO – The parents of a three-year-old stand charged with non-assaultive child abuse after their male son tested positive for cocaine in his system.

According to Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan, arrest warrants were served Monday on 34-year-old Jarrell Donnell Dunn of Conway Apartments, Conway, and 30-year-old Delneshia Smith of Buena Vista Road, Murfreesboro. The Murfreesboro Police Department served the warrants and made the arrests, transporting the two suspects to the Hertford County Jail where they were charged with the misdemeanor and each given a $5,000 secured bond.

Vaughan said he was unaware if the cocaine that the child apparently ingested was powder or in rock form. He added that neither parent admitted to having illegal drugs.

“This is an extremely sad situation for a small child to be tested positive for drugs,” Vaughan stated.

When asked about the overall lack of severity, considering the nature of the crime, of the charges leveled against the parents, Vaughan answered, “The letter of the law will only allow us to lodge this particular charge. We do not make the laws, we can only enforce the ones on the books.”

According to the incident report filed by Hertford County Sheriff’s Detective Dexter Hayes, he was summoned to the Roanoke-Chowan Hospital Emergency Room on Nov. 11 at around 6:30 p.m. There, he was advised by medical staffers that the child, suffering seizures, was transported by private vehicle to the ER. The child was administered a urine test, which came back positive for cocaine, and was transported to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville for additional testing.

After speaking to both parents at the hospital, Hayes learned that Smith left the child in Dunn’s care at her home while she worked. She added that Dunn performed those child care duties each day that she is at her place of employment at a Murfreesboro fast food restaurant.

“Mr. Dunn stated that his son slept from the time he got to the residence and awoke at 10 a.m.,” Hayes stated in his report. “The mother came home and picked the child up and left the residence.”

Smith said she took the child to her mother’s residence, located on East Vance Street in Murfreesboro. From there the child was allegedly picked up by Louise Beale followed by Shanda Barnes picking up the three-year-old and taking him back to her residence. At some point, apparently unbeknownst to anyone, the child wound back up at the grandmother’s home on East Vance Street.

“Ms. Smith stated she was unsure of how her child got back to her mother’s residence, but her child, along with other kids, were playing outside until it became dark,” Hayes wrote in the report. “Ms. Smith stated that her kids came inside of her mother’s residence and played in her living room while they were in the kitchen with the curtain pulled to.”

In her statement to Hayes, Smith said she looked in on the kids from time to time. She stated that her son came into the kitchen with his mouth twisted and his arm stuck out and then went into a seizure.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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