Local News

Woman Finds No Safe Haven for Abandoning Toddler

Posted April 27, 2007

— A Sampson County woman has been arrested after she left her 2-year-old daughter at a local hospital.

Tracy Devona Owens, 24, has been charged with misdemeanor child abuse and child neglect in connection with the incident, which occurred at Sampson Regional Medical Center the night of April 18.

The toddler was left in a bathroom inside the front entrance. Stanley Monk, a janitor at Sampson Regional, found the girl wandering the hallways.

"I was getting up my trash and saw a girl in the hallway," Monk said. "She stood up and wiped her eyes like she was lost, and I went over and asked her where her mother was. She shook her head and said she didn't know."

Hospital employees searched for the girl's mother but found only a note. "I have nowhere for me and my kids to stay. ... I don't know what else to do," the note said.

Employees then called police.

"The child was 2 years old, left to her own devices," said Detective Russell Strickland of the Clinton Police Department. "She could have wandered into traffic. Anyone could have picked her up."

North Carolina's Safe Surrender Law allows mothers to abandon children at a hospital or other location with a responsible adult, but it applies only to infants up to 7 days old.

Still, Strickland said authorities wouldn't have arrested Owens if she had given the toddler to a responsible adult.

"It would be a neglect issue from a social services standpoint but not criminal from our standpoint," he said.

The girl, who was unharmed, is with her grandmother, who is fighting for custody. The grandmother also is raising three older children of Owens. The children's father is in prison.


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  • JustDontUnderstandPpl Apr 29, 2007

    Maybe the woman was desperate, and the child had spent days and nights in a terrible home environment. However, think how that poor child felt...wandering around a strange place and not knowing anyone. She could have been taken by a child molester, wandered out in the road,...the list is endless. Thank God she is safe, but "mom" could have done better.

  • cheekygreek Apr 29, 2007

    Birth Control! Don't start having babies UNTIL you are married.Be responsible.Geez what is wrong with all these sorry women,laying on there backs so we can pay.

  • lovecarolinagutters Apr 28, 2007

    I hope that anyone reading this never has to feel the desperation that this women felt. Surely, it is true, she should never have had this child or the ones she abandoned to her mother.But, what's done is done. No telling how many days this child went without food or how many nights she spent in a house that was undesireable.The mother obviously has problems. But, she did'nt throw her in a dumpster or sell her for crack. There is nothing good about this. Hopefully the mother will get the help she needs and the grandmother with gather her stregnth from the Lord. My prayers to all involved.

  • cnaatmg Apr 28, 2007

    She should have give the child to a adult but at least she left her in a safe place. Good Luck to the little girl

  • lollly52 Apr 28, 2007

    I think the girl who left the infant at MacDonalds had to agree to have a contraceptive implanted that would last for 3 years?

    It is in the child's best interest to allow women who do not want them to surrender them - much better than being raised by some one who cannot or will not care for the child. And every woman who surrenders a child should have to agree to contraceptive implant to make sure that she does not produce another in the near future. It would cost society much less to raise a good child for 18 years than to keep the adult that unloved child will become in prison for 50 years.

  • JustDontUnderstandPpl Apr 28, 2007

    notadumbredneck...can you imagine how scared this poor kid was, left alone and not knowing where her "mother" was??? I'm sorry, this was NOT the thing to do. And btw, I am in the medical profession...the nurses would have helped rather than let a child suffer.

  • JustDontUnderstandPpl Apr 28, 2007

    What happened to all the other comments on this story?

  • jcrew1979 Apr 28, 2007

    so sad

  • hefty-lefty Apr 28, 2007

    Wonder why she didn't leave this one with the grandmother

  • amyj Apr 28, 2007

    Thanks lawpirate. I do think once you've given up one child or had one removed, you should be on mandetory 5 year contraception. Also, I think it might help to put simple statements on tampon and sanitary napkin packages (which all young girls see and use)how they can get FREE/confidential contraception AT ANY AGE, at their local health department.