A wellness check by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department leads to six children, ages 14 to two years old, going to state custody foster care after parents allegedly left the state to participate on a game show. Janae Dixon, 29, and Steven Hunt, 29, of Devil’s Elbow were charged with six counts of child endangerment in the first degree.
The wellness check was performed after a concerned resident called about the legal age a child may stay home by himself or herself. The caller told dispatch that the parents would be gone for four days and be out of state, leaving the children alone to take care of themselves without a guardian.
The document stated the officer asked the oldest child about his parents and reportedly said he did not know what show they would be on.
“Upon my arrival, 1900 hours, I made contact with a juvenile male. I asked the juvenile where his parents were, the minor said that they went to be on a show. I asked the juvenile what kind of show, the minor didn’t know. The only thing he knew was that it was a show,” the official report stated.
Once inside, the officer allegedly discovered garbage laying on the floor and the house in a state of disarray. “Upon entering, I noticed that the living room had garbage on the floor. We went into the kitchen and the stove only had one burner. In one spot where a burner should have been had magnets in it,” the reporting officer said in the statement.
Upon further investigation, the refrigerator contained rotten, expired food and spilled products on the shelves. “I had asked the juvenile what kind of food his parents had left for them. He showed me five packs of Ramen, two loaves of white bread and a package of ham slices,” the report stated.
The child showed the officer around the rest of the home and met his younger brothers and sisters who allegedly share one bedroom. “Upon walking around the rest of the home, I noticed the master bedroom was full of garbage and trash. The other bedroom had a small bed and I asked the juvenile male where do you all sleep,” the report stated.
According to the document, the child said two of the youngest sleep on the couch and the rest of them share the bedroom. The officer asked the children when their parents were coming home, five children put up four fingers indicating four days.
The arresting officer made contact with the Department of Family Services. The agent came to the property and investigated the house. After contacting the supervisor, the children were taken into state custody to be placed into foster care.
Dixon and Hunt are currently being held on a $50,000 dollar bond each. If convicted, they may face up to seven years each for the six counts of child endangerment and be taken into the custody of the Missouri Department of Corrections.