Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014
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Caregiver arrested, charged with child neglect

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A caregiver who runs ‘The Princess House’ was arrested Thursday and charged with leaving a disabled person and children home alone.

At about 9 a.m., Hernando County deputies responded to 3387 Irondale Ave. in Spring Hill on a well-being check. The Emergency Communications Center had received a call from a family member requesting a deputy be sent to the residence to check on the adult caregiver, Donnamarie Hunter, because she was not answering the telephone. The family member was worried because there were small children in the home as well as disabled people.

When deputies arrived they saw no vehicles at the home. They walked around the property, looked in windows and saw two small children in a bedroom.

The children were upset and frightened, and would not come to the door to allow the deputies inside, a sheriff’s report states.

A sergeant was summoned and, along with deputies, maintained verbal contact with the children through the window. But the children would not allow them to enter the residence.

Then Hunter came to the front door. She told deputies she “had been at a friend’s house and had entered the home through the rear door,” deputies reported.

Hunter then changed her story and told deputies that she “had been out for a walk,” sheriff’s officials said.

When deputies asked Hunter the whereabouts of her vehicle, she said she sometimes parks on a street behind her residence. In this case, she saw patrol cars near her residence and “did not want to get in the way,” the report said.

Hunter told deputies she left the home at 9 a.m. and drove to a grocery store to get milk for the children, sheriff’s officials said. While there, she started getting more food for the weekend and ended up spending $180, the report says.

While deputies were speaking to Hunter inside the home, a man came out of one of the bedrooms, displaying developmental and medical disabilities, the sheriff’s report says.

A license posted on a wall at the home showed Hunter is licensed and registered to operate the assisted living facility.

Deputies later learned that a woman, also developmentally disabled, lives in the home. At the time of the incident, the woman was at ARC Nature Coast, a local nonprofit agency that helps adults with developmental disabilities, and had been there since earlier that morning.

Hunter was arrested and charged with three counts of cruelty toward a child and taken to Hernando County Jail.

The Department of Children and Families was contacted and a DCF caseworker told deputies she found temporary housing for the two disabled people living in the home. The two small children were turned over to their mother.

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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