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‘I need a beer,’ abandoned 3-year-old tells police before her mother is arrested

The Washington Post The Washington Post 4/03/2016 Peter Holley
Shauna Bennett, 42, is charged with abandoning and endangering her child. © Lubbock County Detention Center Shauna Bennett, 42, is charged with abandoning and endangering her child.

When police in Lubbock, Tex., were called to investigate a report of a 3-year-old girl wandering alone in an apartment complex, they weren’t sure what they might find.

The girl was “extremely dirty,” according to police, with red bumps from bedbug bites covering her skin. A neighbor who sometimes babysits the girl told Fox affiliate KJTV that the filth was a result of the girl playing outside.

If officers had any doubts that the child needed help, those were erased a short time later, when the girl repeatedly told them “I’m hungry” and dropped a shocking one-liner:

“I need a beer,” she told officers, according to a police report cited by KJTV.

“This was a clear neglect on the mother’s part,” Lubbock Police Lt. Ray Mendoza told the station. “More than anything, it was the conditions the child was living under and the fact that the mom was completely oblivious to where the child had been or where it was at the time.”

The child’s mother, Shauna Bennett, was discovered sleeping by police after they knocked on her door, which was ajar, called the 42-year-old woman’s name and eventually entered the apartment, according to the police report cited by KJTV.

Police described the inside of Bennett’s home as extremely dirty, with cockroaches on the walls and mold-covered dishes in the sink.

According to police, when officers awakened Bennett, the mother had no idea where her child was.

Keith Graves, the neighbor who said he often babysits the toddler, told the station that he felt like police overreacted to the grime.

“It could have been cleaned a little bit better, but Shauna was doing the best that she could under the circumstances that she was in,” Graves said. “They know that I babysit. They could have just brought the child to me, and I would have held on to [her] until Shauna either woke up, or I would have went down to Shauna’s apartment and knocked on the door until she woke up.”

Police disagreed.

“I had probable cause to believe that [the little girl] had not been fed, washed, or provided with any type of general medical care or treatment for an unsafe amount of time,” an officer wrote in an affidavit cited by CBS affiliate KOSA.

Authorities have charged Bennett with abandoning and endangering a child. She was being held in the Lubbock County Detention Center on a $15,000 bond.

The owner of the Corte Vista Apartments told KJTV that, only two weeks before, Bennett’s 3-year-old had been found wandering the complex.

He noted that he’s also asked Bennett to keep clean up her apartment.

The girl was placed with Children’s Protective Services, according to KOSA.

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