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Mother of W.Va. toddler charged with neglect

December 06, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The mother of a 23-month-old Martinsburg boy was charged with child neglect after the toddler was found shivering and poorly dressed outside in cold and wet conditions Thursday afternoon with a small poodle.

Wanda M. Murphy of 320 Twigg Drive in Martinsburg was arraigned by Berkeley County Magistrate Sandra L. Miller who set a $30,000 bond, according to court records.

Found wearing a thin, long-sleeve shirt, windbreaker pants and tennis shoes outside a home in the 300 block of Yoakum Street, the child was shivering and appeared to have soiled his pants, according to a complaint filed by Martinsburg Police Department Patrolman E.C. Neely. The temperature was about 20 degrees and Neely said a mix of rain and sleet was steadily falling in a 10-mph wind.

The couple who found the boy told Neely that they tried to find the child's parents for 20 to 25 minutes before calling police, Neely said in his complaint.

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The child's home was found after a neighbor associated the description of the poodle with 320 Twigg Drive, Neely said in his complaint.

At the child's home, Neely said the mother told the officer the boy and the dog were "locked in the back fenced-in yard playing," records show.

The officer said the defendant admitted the child was playing by himself and not wearing heavy clothing or a coat for the weather, according to the complaint.

She "acted as though she did not care and was unremorseful" when Neely told her that he didn't have the child in his direct custody, Neely said.

The woman didn't know the child's middle name and gave the officer four last names before the woman's other children helped her identify the boy, Neely said.

The child, who will be 2 years old Dec. 12, and three more of the woman's children, have been placed in the custody of the Child Protective Services division of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Neely said.

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