Infant to be placed into CPS custody, Altamonte Springs police say

Police: Jessica McCreery failed to take 7-month-old to doctor for medical evaluation


ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – Police issued a statewide search and alerted authorities outside of Florida to help track down Jessica McCreery and 7-month-old Penelope after they said McCreery refused to take her daughter to see a doctor. Now, Child Protective Services believe Penelope is in grave danger.

"Jessica for every belief is believed to be on the run with Penelope, with a child who needs immediate medical attention," said Master Police Officer Robert Pelton, of Altamonte Springs Police Department.

This comes after police said Child Protective Services reviewed pictures that showed signs of the child being malnourished and needed medical attention.

Friday afternoon, the family's attorney said the 21-year-old mother planned to take her child to the doctor and is cooperating with police.

"I don't believe there is any reason for anyone to get involved with caring for the Penelope except for the parents and there are some concerns that are addressed, we'll deal with them," said Mark O'Mara.

However, police said it's now or never and had a judge issue a court order to have Penelope get the medical attention she needs.

"If she makes a move, if she app ears, we will find her and we'll make sure Penelope is examined," said Pelton.

O'Mara said they're still working some things out and will release more information as soon as possible.

Police said David Hogarth, 46, named earlier this week as a person of interest in the case, will not be responsible for police resources used in the search for Penelope and McCreery.

O'Mara, the attorney representing David Hogarth, held a news conference Friday afternoon, saying his client is working with police to ensure that they have the information they need to know that McCreery and Penelope are safe.

O'Mara on Thursday provided a photo to police that showed McCreery and Penelope holding a sign with Thursday's date. O'Mara would not say where McCreery and Penelope are staying.

Asked if police believed that the photographs were legitimate, O'Mara said, "Absolutely. I don't think they have any concerns that those photos were not taken (Thursday)."

The case began May 5 when Child Protective Services first visited the family's home on Adelaide Boulevard after an anonymous caller indicated that Penelope might not be properly cared for.

Pictures of Jessica McCreery, 21, and 7-month-old Penelope Hogarth sent to Local 6 News by attorney Mark O'Mara.
Pictures of Jessica McCreery, 21, and 7-month-old Penelope Hogarth sent to Local 6 News by attorney Mark O'Mara.

Altamonte Springs police said Penelope was not born in a hospital, and authorities don't believe that she's ever been checked by a medical professional.

"(Doctors) have a great concern for Penelope, which is called 'failure to thrive,'" Master Officer Rob Pelton, a spokesman for the Altamonte Springs Police Department, said Thursday. "Just based on photos, they said if her birth date is correct and that she is a possible 6½ to 7 months old, they have great concern for her health."

CPS investigators said the child was underweight, and they told McCreery to seek medical attention for the child.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a missing child alert for Penelope on Thursday, fearing that McCreery and her daughter might be in danger.

FDLE investigators said the mother and daughter were seen again May 7 at a nearby Publix grocery store.

But when CPS investigators returned to the home Tuesday for a checkup on Penelope, they discovered that the mother and daughter were not only gone, but there were no signs that a baby ever lived there.

Instead, investigators said they found marijuana plants growing inside, and they arrested Hogarth. He was taken into custody on drug and child neglect charges.  Police said Hogarth refused to say where McCreery and the baby were.

Hogarth bonded out of jail Wednesday afternoon and later retained O'Mara.

Watch Local 6 News and stay with ClickOrlando.com for updates on this developing story.

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