Duo left 3-year-old outside to do drugs in home, Polk County deputies say

Couple arrested on child neglect charges, inhaling harmful chemicals

By Michelle Dendy - Web Editor
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POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Polk County deputies arrested a couple after they say the duo locked a 3-year-old out of a home for over an hour to get high.

Rhonda Branch, 25, and Antonio Allen, 26, have been charged with child neglect, possession of marijuana, inhaling harmful chemicals and possession of paraphernalia.

Deputies said neighbors reported the 3-year-old outside crying and banging on the doors of the home trying to get someone to let him inside on Wednesday evening.

When deputies arrived, they banged on the doors and windows for approximately 10-15 minutes before getting a response.

Branch and Allen opened the door and a cloud of smoke billowed out that smelled like marijuana, according to deputies. The pair told deputies they smoked marijuana and ingested "whip it" (whipped cream nitrous oxide canisters).

"Rhonda Branch is certainly no ‘Woman Of The Year' candidate – she and her boyfriend sat in their house, smoked pot and inhaled nitrous oxide, and completely neglected a helpless 3-year-old baby boy for whom they were responsible. They are the perfect example of why using illegal drugs is harmful, and should continue to be illegal," Sheriff Grady Judd said in a release.

The duo told deputies that "marijuana should be legal anyways" and that is why they smoke it all the time. Deputies said Branch and Allen said they weren't aware the child had gotten out.

They were booked into the Polk County jail.

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