MISSOURI – On Saturday, June 22nd, mother Jodie Suzanne Kepto, age 37, was charged with first-degree child endangerment for leaving her two small children in a hot car while she was apparently shopping.
A probable cause statement said that police officer from the Arnold Police Department answered a call to the Dollar General on Jeffco Blvd. for a report of a suspicious individual. Upon arrival, the witness directed them to a tan Ford Focus that Kepto apparently had driven to the store.
The car was parked directly in the sunlight and only had the window on the driver’s side rolled down about three inches. The temperature at the time was 78 degrees and the humidity was at 80 percent.
Police officers could see the seven-month-old’s foot protruding out from under two boxes, a shopping bag, a crate of diapers, and a roll of paper towels. The baby was primarily unresponsive.
While officers questioned Kepto at the scene they learned of another child inside the car. Searching the car again, officers discovered a two-year-old underneath two blankets, this child was not wearing a diaper was drenched with sweat and urine. The child was lethargic and slow to respond.
“The children were almost completely hidden from view in the vehicle,” Officer Daniel Dougherty wrote in court documents.
Both children were treated at the scene and transported to a local area hospital, then later released into the custody of Missouri Family Service Children Division. At this time the children have been placed in a foster home while an investigation is currently taken place.
According to officers, Kepto claims she left the children with their father while she went into the store. After an investigation of the scene, it was determined that she arrived at the location alone with the children. Surveillance footage on the store property shows the children were left alone inside the hot car for about an hour.
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