Mother blames "bad day" for leaving 3 kids in hot car

Mother blames "bad day" for leaving 3 kids in hot car

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A woman accused of leaving her three small children in a hot car while she got her daily dose of medication told a judge she had had a "really bad day."

Jennifer Michelle Arnold, 30, of Manila pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to three misdemeanor counts of third-degree child endangerment and obstructing governmental operations.

Arnold told Craighead County District Judge Tommy Fowler she suffered from post-partum depression and that she had had a "really bad day the day before" the incident.

Workers at a dental clinic in the 900-block of Osler Drive called police Tuesday morning after finding the children in a parked car, with the windows "barely cracked." According to the initial incident report, the heat index at the time was 95 degrees.

The witnesses told Officer David Stout the children, all under the age of three, were "screaming, sweaty, and crying." They said all of the children had "terribly soiled diapers and needed changing."

The women took the children into their office and gave them ice water to drink and cooled them down with wet paper towels, the incident report stated. The women also fed the children crackers and macaroni and cheese. They also changed the children's diapers.

As they were tending to the children, their mother came into the clinic looking for them.

The witnesses said Arnold seemed to have problems speaking. Believing she was under the influence, they refused to release the children until police and paramedics arrived.

When Stout got to the scene, he reported Arnold initially said her name was "Jamie Williams" and gave him a fake date of birth. He noted that Arnold was "unsteady on her feet" and was slurring her words.

While running her name through dispatch, a man from a nearby treatment center approached the officer and identified Arnold. He reportedly said she had arrived at the center just before 11 for her daily dose of methadone.

He said Arnold did not say anything about leaving the children in the car.

"He also said in his statement that she asked him to 'lie and tell them that she was someone else,'" the incident report stated.

Stout arrested Arnold on suspicion of third-degree child endangerment and obstructing governmental operations.

Upon placing her in his cruiser, Arnold reportedly began complaining about having seizures and that her heart was "palpitating."

He asked the ambulance crew that had been called to the scene to check the children to take her to the emergency room of a local hospital.

After she was medically cleared, Stout transported her to the Craighead County Detention Center where she was left on a $2,085 surety bond to await a Wednesday afternoon probable cause hearing.

A Department of Children and Family Services agent took the three children into custody.

On Wednesday, Judge Fowler ordered Arnold to pay $1,180 in fines and fees.

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