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Woman charged with child neglect, abuse, Osceola deputies say

Deputies find toddler chewing on vitamin; Girl had bruising on legs

Christy McDowell.

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – A 27-year-old woman has been taken to the Osceola County Jail after being arrested on child neglect and child abuse charges, according to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies arrived about 8:27 p.m. Monday to the Dessert Inn Bar and Hotel on South Kenansville Road in Yeehaw Junction.

A witness told deputies a small child was wandering outside and gave a Dessert Inn employee a bottle of pills, deputies said.

Deputies found the room the 8-year-old girl was staying in, which was in "disarray and in poor condition," according to the Sheriff's Office.

The 8-year-old girl was in the room with her two younger siblings, ages 3 and 1. Deputies said the three children were dirty and in need of basic hygiene.

The Sheriff's Office said the 3-year-old child was chewing on a pill, which was later determined to be a vitamin, and the 8-year-old girl had bruising on her legs. As a precaution, deputies called Fire Rescue officials, who responded and took the children to the Indian River Medical Center.

During the course of the investigation, deputies found people who were staying at the hotel who knew the children's mother, Christy McDowell, 27.

The people told deputies they saw McDowell leave her room, but did not realize she left the hotel property, because McDowell never asked them to watch the children, which she would typically do, according to the Sheriff's Office.

At 9:51 p.m., McDowell and her boyfriend returned to the hotel. When asked by deputies why the children were left alone, McDowell said she asked her boyfriend's relatives to watch the children while she went to the store. The relatives told deputies McDowell never asked them to watch the children and they were unaware she left the hotel, deputies said.

Based on the statements of the witnesses and the evidence, McDowell was arrested on three counts of child neglect and two counts of child abuse. Deputies said she was booked into the Osceola County Jail.

The Department of Children and Families was notified, and after being released from the hospital, the children were taken into DCF's custody, deputies said.