The parents were each charged with child endangerment, a felony.
A 4-year-old girl, missing Thursday afternoon, Nov. 14 from a house on Ridge Road in Eastpoint, was found unharmed, but trapped in the woods, after being located with the help of a drone.
In a news release from Christy Thompson, public information officer for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Tyler Gay responded to a call about 1:30 p.m. from the girl’s parents, who reported they had not seen the child since about 1 a.m. the night before, when they put her to bed. The mother said her daughter was wearing tan shorts and a white shirt at that time.
When they awoke at 12:30 p.m., the girl was not in her bed and they were unable to locate her, they told investigators. According to the probable cause affidavit filed in the case, the mother said she took a trazodone to sleep..
The release said that as deputies approached the front door of the residence, they noticed a strong, foul odor coming from inside. The home was in complete disarray, with dog feces, urine and garbage covering the floors. Rotten food, ashtrays full of cigarette butts, and bags full of clothing blocked the doorways of bedrooms, read the release.
Deputies said that when they attempted to open a closet door to search for the child, several live rats started falling out of the ceiling. After completing their search of the inside of the home, they concluded she was not there.
Additional deputies and members of the sheriff’s office arrived on scene to begin searching outside with a door-to-door search. A Florida Department of Corrections K-9 team, and Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, were also requested to assist.
Within 20 minutes of the call, the sheriff’s office located the missing child with a drone launched by Lt. James Hamm. She was found trapped in a heavily wooded area off Wilderness Road, about 200 yards from the house, unable to free herself. She was wet, muddy and had scratches on her limbs.
The weather conditions were approximately 50 degrees outside and she was wearing no shoes or socks, read the release, along with an orange short-sleeved shirt and blue flowery pants.
Sabrina C. Berry, 25, and Marcus A. Howard, 30, were arrested and each charged with a felony - neglect of child without great bodily harm. The girl was placed in the home of a family member, and the couple were each released on their own recognizance, under supervision.
The order stipulated that they were not to have contact with their minor children, pending a shelter care hearing. At this emergency hearing, a judge will determine whether allowing the child to remain at home will present a danger to the child, and whether or not the Florida Department of Children and Family Services should take protective custody for an extended amount of time.
According to his application to be declared indigent, and assigned a public defender, which was granted, Howard said he has three dependents, and lives on Social Security benefits.