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W.Va. man charged with leaving 4-year-old alone

November 21, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man was charged Wednesday night with one count of felony child neglect after his girlfriend's sister's 4-year-old daughter was left alone in a known drug area, according to court records.

Willoughby "Will" Charles Horner, 34, of 63 Evergreen Drive, was in Eastern Regional Jail Thursday on $20,000 bail.

Cpl. Willie Johnson, of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, investigated the case. Johnson said the girl was left on a church step on Martin Street in Martinsburg on Nov. 5.

In exchange for using a van, Horner had arranged to drop the girl off at her aunt's home and to drop the girl's older brother off at school, Johnson said.

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Although the boy was dropped off at Marlowe Elementary School, the girl was not dropped off at her aunt's home in Pikeside, Johnson said.

A Martinsburg Police Department officer found the girl at around 5 p.m. Because the girl only could tell police her first name, not her address or last name, police contacted workers with the Department of Health and Human Resources, who took custody of the girl.

The girl's family learned she was missing when someone from the boy's school called his mother to see who was going to pick up the boy. Horner was supposed to pick up the child, Johnson said.

Family members started contacting each other, and none said they had seen Horner, Johnson said.

At around 6 p.m. the girl's aunt - Horner's girlfriend - went to the sheriff's department to report the girl missing. The girl and her family were reunited the next morning, Johnson said.

Johnson said he spent several days trying to track down Horner, who eventually turned himself in.

The area of Martin Street where the girl was found is known to be the site of drug-related activity, police said.

The girl was not dressed adequately given the cold weather that day, Johnson said.

Conviction on a charge of child neglect carries a sentence of one to five years in prison.

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