Pair arrested after children found unsupervised

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By Jennifer Caldwell


A LaFollette mother made what some could deem the ultimate in poor choices regarding the care of her children last week.

When a small child was seen by witnesses wandering around the parking lot of a LaFollette apartment building LaFollette Police Officer John Baker was called to investigate.

Upon arrival at the scene Baker and Officer Joe Brown found a little girl who was “very upset and scared,” the report of the event said. 

When asked by Brown and Officer Pam Jarrett where she was supposed to be the young girl told them she was staying with a babysitter, Baker’s report said.

Officers knocked on the door of the apartment for several minutes with no response. When another child was heard crying inside the residence officers entered through the unlocked front door, records indicate.

Once inside the home Jerry Leach, 63, of 203 North 11th Street, Apartment 226, was allegedly located passed out on the bed in a back bedroom. According to arrest reports, there were 31 empty beer cans beside the bed.

After several attempts officers were able to rouse Leach, who was visibly intoxicated, the report said.

While officers were speaking with Leach the children’s mother, Wanda Kay Cieslak, 37, of 152 East Elm Street, arrived at the apartment. She allegedly reported she had left the children for approximately 45 minutes while she went to the store with a friend, Baker’s report said.

According to witnesses, the children had allegedly been at the apartment for several hours after being dropped off by Cieslak.

As officers checked the apartment it was discovered that the residence was without electricity or running water and was littered with trash and excrement. 

Baker’s report also indicates there were no diapers for the young child who was covered with feces.

Although Cieslak stated she had only dropped the children off within the hour before authorities arrived, Baker noted he had seen her several times during his shift around the corner of North Tennessee and East Central Avenues.

The Department of Children’s Services was contacted. Case managers reported to the scene at which time Cieslak submitted to drug testing. Tests revealed Cieslak allegedly tested positive for several narcotics. 

The children were released to the custody of their paternal grandparents.

Both Cieslak and Leach were arrested and charged with child abuse and reckless endangerment. They are scheduled to appear in court on June 19.


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