A 22-year-old mother of two from Atlanta was arrested after police said she left her children alone in a cold, dark apartment with only the oven on to keep them warm while she went out to charge her cell phone.
A security guard at an apartment complex on Confederate Court was making his rounds at around 11pm Tuesday when he noticed the back door to a unit ajar.
He entered the apartment to investigate and discovered Shantonia Heard's two young children, ages six and two, lying on the bed in a rear bedroom.
According to the official, the home had no electricity or heat, and dog feces from the family's pit bull puppy were littering the floor. In the kitchen, the gas oven was left on with the door open.
The guard called police and told them that the kids were on their own for 'a couple of hours' before officers arrived on the scene.
Paramedics who were called to the apartment complex examined the kids and determined that both were unharmed and in good health.
An hour later, the children's mother returned home to be greeted by investigators who were still at the apartment. Heard told police that she stepped out to charge her cell phone at a cousin’s nearby home, Fox 2 Now reported
The 22-year-old mother was arrested and charged with cruelty to children, but during a hearing on Wednesday, her charge was downgraded to a misdemeanor reckless conduct, and she was granted a $5,000 signature bond, according to Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Her two kids were taken into the custody of Division of Family and Children Services. The family dog was placed with Fulton County Animal Control, where it will remain until Heard is released from jail.
Heard’s neighbors were outraged to hear about the young mother’s alleged actions.
‘You're supposed to know better,’ Marquita Crudup, who lives with her six-year-old son in the apartment above Heard, told WXIA-TV. ‘I would be worried about the house burning down.... I just don't understand.’
Heard's family say this is all a misunderstand. One of her cousins told 11Alive that the 22-year-old was only gone a few minutes and did not want to wake the children.