published Thursday, October 13th, 2011

2-year-old girl abandoned in ditch; Chickamauga mother charged

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    Jennifer Haines, 31, is charged with cruelty to children.

A 31-year-old woman was charged with cruelty to children after she dropped off her 2-year-old daughter in a ditch Tuesday evening in Ringgold, Ga.

She then walked into a nearby home -- even though she didn't know the residents -- so she could watch through the windows to see if someone picked up her child, according to a police report.

When Jennifer Haines was later questioned, she told police she was addicted to prescription drugs and could no longer take care of her daughter.

Haines told police she left the child near a children's playground in hopes that a "nice family would find her and care for her," the report states.

She was arrested and charged with reckless conduct causing harm or endangerment, contributing to child deprivation, second-degree cruelty to children and possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce.

"It's not an everyday occurrence in small town America," said Ringgold Police Deputy Chief Wilburn Dycus.

Several drivers called Ringgold police Tuesday when they spotted the toddler walking down LaFayette Street in only shorts and a diaper around 6:30 p.m., the report states. It was raining and the temperature was in the upper 50s at the time.

When the toddler tripped and fell in the mud and began to cry, several motorists stopped and someone wrapped the child in a coat while waiting for police to arrive.

Police found Haines at a nearby house but didn't know the people who lived in there, according to the report. A teenage boy who lived there called police and said, "There's a woman in our house that just walked in and won't leave."

At first Haines told police that the toddler's nanny had left the child alone. Then she changed her story and said she had driven the child to Ringgold. Afterwards, Haines said she hugged and kissed the toddler goodbye and then ran across the street to watch.

The child was placed in foster care and Haines was taken to Catoosa County Jail.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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shopalholic1 said...

I am in the process of trying to adopt a baby. This makes me sick to see people do this with their child when I see so many of us in our support group that are wanting a child. That being said, I do feel sorry for the Mom because it looks like she did love her child but obviously was not in the right frame of mind to do the right thing by taking the child to a safe location. I do feel she needs to be punished and I hope the baby is placed with a nice, loving family.

October 13, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.
headcoconut said...

Let's see, you leave your daughter in a ditch because you're hoping someone will just so happen to come along and find her and give her a loving home? Either those drugs have completely fried your brain or you're lying! There is no excuse for abandoning a 2 year old child in such a dangerous and neglectful way. It's stories like this that makes a good argument for forced steralization so such idiots can't keep producing.

October 13, 2011 at 2:14 p.m.
tmarko730 said...

wow shopalholic glad you wouldnt my mother ! How can you say it looks like she loved her child.What location would you have taken this child to?She placed the child in the ditch and walked to a near by hope went in and watched out the window,wonder what she told the people in the house?Why would they let her come into the house??

October 13, 2011 at 3:30 p.m.
rolando said...

They didn't, marko; they called the police.

A teenage boy who lived there called police and said, "There's a woman in our house that just walked in and won't leave."

October 13, 2011 at 3:39 p.m.
cildawg1 said...

This woman is obviously sick and needs help. I hope that she gets the help she needs. She DOES NOT NEED CHILDREN EVER AGAIN.

October 13, 2011 at 4:15 p.m.
Humphrey said...

We need better mental health care.

October 13, 2011 at 4:45 p.m.
Emersization said...

I know the mother loved her child. It is too bad many families at hit with an epidemic such as drug abuse. When a parent is addicted, the whole family is impacted. Drug addicts normally have a guilty conscience and want nothing to do with the authorities. I feel, in this case, the mother wanted a better life for her child and lost hope in raising it to have a good life. Hiding from the authorities may have been the case in abandoning the toddler in the playground. We read of these cases from all over the nation – the last meal together at McDonald’s type of stories. The Government must offer immunity to parents and not ask questions for the sake of the children. Not too long ago, there was a program to surrender firearms at police stations and no questions would be asked. Why? It is about public safety. For the sake of the children, accept them and not ask questions either. Arrest the parents some other time; you will get your chance.

October 13, 2011 at 5:31 p.m.
bryseana said...

I think this is a mental health issue.

October 13, 2011 at 8:04 p.m.
brittany said...

This is an act of pure selfishness! All the people who are commenting about how she had to love her daughter must be on the same drugs she is hooked on. If she truly loved her daughter, she would have put forth the effort to clean her life up and provide a descent life for her child instead of taking the easy route of dumping your kid in a ditch! First of all if you love someone, you protect them. How does dumping a half-naked baby on the side of a road, and then watching through a window as the child struggles show any amount of love?!? The kid could have been abducted instead of rescued! Ever think about that "loving mommy"?!?

Completely pathetic is what best describes this sorry excuse for a mother, as well as anyone who attempts to sympathize with her, or condone her actions. There is no excuse for what was done.

October 14, 2011 at 12:20 p.m.
nanapie said...

all i did is cry how can a mother leave her child in a dich why didnt she take it to cops r something there are peoples out there that would pick up achild and kill it are worse dont you think

October 14, 2011 at 2:09 p.m.
frumpster65 said...

This is just sad...I do agree with the above poster that there should be some type of safe house or drop off for those who no longer "want" their children...instead of them opting to dump them in a ditch! The children are not at fault...

January 10, 2012 at 1:01 p.m.
Peach2u said...

Throw the book at this woman. I don't care what she was hooked on. There are safe house laws. You can leave your child at a hospital,fire dept,or police station. If you leave your unwanted child at one of these safe havens you do not break any laws. The child is safe and you can crawl back under your rock. The list is huge of what could have happened to this child. I just hope they don't give her back to this woman in a few months and pat her on the back and say it's okay you can try again!

February 9, 2012 at 8:50 a.m.
mhbraganza said...

Peachh2u - If you try and abandon a child at one of those locations, do you think they just let you walk out the door? Even this poor simple-minded woman had enough sense to realize that she would probably get into trouble for leaving her kid at a police station. Of course the deluded idiot was soon found and arrested anyway.

June 12, 2012 at 3:49 p.m.
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