For the second time in one day, a Columbia mother has been arrested for leaving a child or children unattended at home.
Monica Wilson, 34, of the 1400 block of Oak Street was arrested upon her arrival home Wednesday after police found her three children, aged 11 months to 9 years old, home alone. A neighbor called police after hearing crying from inside the house.
Wilson, a single parent, told police that she left the children to go to work at a Main Street deli. The children were unattended at least an hour-and-a-half, possibly longer, Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott said.
"As a community, we cannot accept leaving children unattended," Scott said, noting there's no difference between leaving a child to go to work or to go to the store.
Kayce Nichol Peay, 22, was arrested Wednesday morning after her 3-year-old daughter was found wandering on a Rosewood neighborhood street. Peay told authorities she left the child alone sleeping at home while she went to the store.
Wilson and Peay were charged with unlawful conduct toward a child. Wilson could face other charges, Scott said, if the investigation determines that Wednesday's incident was not isolated. If a trend is established, Wilson could face the more serious charge of neglect, Scott said.
When officers arrived at the Oak Street house, they heard crying from inside the home. They found a 4-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl hiding under a bed and an 11-month-old girl, who had vomited, crying in bed.
Scott said it is never acceptable to leave a child unattended, whatever the reason.
"It may not be easy to get, but a parent is obligated to seek and do their homework to find" care for their children when parents are not home, he said.
The children were taken into custody by the Department of Social Services. They will remain under DSS care until after a Monday hearing in the case, Scott said.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Wilson had an attorney.