Mom of baby Penelope has arraignment in child custody case

Jessica McCreery not facing charges in case, attorney says

By Michelle Dendy - Web Editor, Kristin Giannas

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - The undernourished 7-month-old baby who was taken from her mother last month is recovering and gaining weight, according to a picture released by the foster parents on Tuesday.

Jessica McCreery, the baby's 21-year-old mother, appeared in Seminole County court on Tuesday, to discuss the status of her case.

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McCreery took her baby out of state after authorities performed a well-being check last month.

A judge ruled that baby Penelope, who was determined to be underweight and malnourished by doctors, will remain in state custody after an investigation was launched into the whereabouts of the baby and her mother.

Penelope's parents, McCreery, and David Hogarth, 46, were allowed to have supervised visits.

However, on Tuesday, the couple's attorney, Mark O'Mara expressed his frustrations that the visitations are not happening.

"That's crap -- this baby and mom need to be back together soon," he said.

O'Mara claims logistics are preventing the couple from visiting the baby, even though a judge has ordered supervised visits.

"I think that the foster mom and dad have the baby there, and they can have mom there but they're saying well, we want to be careful maybe we should have another supervisor -- now we have to bring in another supervisor -- so I think it's completely unnecessary," he said.

O'Mara says the parents are doing everything they have to do to get the baby back.

The father, Hogarth got a job playing poker, and the mom is working as a waitress, he said.

Jessica McCreery, Penelope Hogarth.

Police issued a statewide search and alerted authorities outside of Florida to help track down McCreery and Penelope after they said McCreery refused to take her daughter to see a doctor. That came after police said CPS reviewed pictures that showed signs of the child being malnourished and needing medical attention.

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

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 Penelope's father, David Hogarth. He was taken into custody on drug and child neglect charges.

Hogarth bonded out of jail and later retained O'Mara. According to O'Mara, McCreery is not facing any charges.

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