Mom who left child in snow avoids trial

Marquisha N. Whitten (Photo courtesy: Allen County Sheriff's Department)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)  A woman accused of neglect of a dependent after her five-year-old son fell into 15 inches of snow and was found with severe frostbite to his hands and feet pleaded guilty on Friday. Her sentencing will be on April 17.

According to the police report NewsChannel 15 obtained in January, Marquisha N. Whitten, 26, went to her neighbor’s apartment with her two children to have drinks the night of January 20.  The neighbor told police Whitten was very drunk when she arrived. Whitten then left with her kids because she got upset about something that was said at the party.

While heading back to her apartment, Whitten lost her apartment keys. She began to search for them, and quickly found them in her back pocket.

Police said her five-year-old son had fallen in the snow while Whitten was searching for her keys. He could not get up because the snow was so deep.

Whitten’s neighbor found the boy in the snow and carried him back to her apartment. She told police Whitten was yelling and walking away from the child even though she saw him in the snow. The neighbor then called police.

The neighbor went back over to Whitten’s apartment to get diapers and a bottle for Whitten’s 11-month-old daughter, who was found on the stairs of the apartment complex.

The neighbor told police Whitten was still concerned about searching for the keys that she had already found. Whitten apparently said to the neighbor, “[sic] them kids, I need to find my keys.”

Police said the boy was not wearing any gloves or socks when he got stuck in the snow. His snow boots were apparently filled with snow.

The neighbor put socks on the child’s feet and wrapped him in blankets until police arrived.

According to police, the boy suffered frostbite to his hands and feet. He was taken to St. Joe Hospital. Hospital officials told police the boy could lose fingers and toes due to the exposure.

Police said when the child was found in the heavy snow, it was -12 degrees with a wind chill of -34 degrees.

Whitten was also taken to the hospital after complaining of frostbite to her hands. Police said her blood alcohol content (BAC) registered .29 percent.


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