Two James City County residents are facing felony child neglect charges after a 2-year-old they were babysitting was found wandering the streets alone with cuts on her hands and no shoes on her feet, police said.
Catherine Veno-Thompson, 64, and Scott Buttera, 48, were arrested on Sept. 16 and each charged with two counts of child neglect and one count of felony child neglect after neighbors found a child they were watching in the street, according to Stephanie Williams, a spokeswoman for James City County Police.
Officers were called to Judy Drive around 5:30 p.m. after residents reported a 2-year-old was found “wandering the roadway,” Williams said.
“The witnesses stated that they came to the child’s aid after seeing her wandering in the street alone and with no shoes on,” Williams said.
Witnesses told police the child was walking towards Pocahontas Trail, and had with dried feces in her diaper and small cuts on her fingers.
“They went door to door looking for her parents and couldn’t figure out where she lived,” Williams said. The witnesses also changed the girl’s diaper, gave her food and a drink and called police.
When police arrived, another witness gave them a possible address for where the child came from.
Police went to that address, Williams said, finding the home’s screen door shut but the inside door wide open. The open door allowed officers to see inside, where Buttera was asleep on the couch, snoring, surrounded by beer cans, Williams said.
Officers knocked on the door to awake Buttera. After going inside the residence, they found Veno-Thompson asleep in a back room of the house, Williams said.
There were also two other children, ages 3 and 7, inside the house, and beer cans containing liquid allegedly within reach of the children, Williams said.
Police believed the two adults appeared intoxicated. Neither of them knew the child was missing, police said.
The children do not live at the address and Buttera and Veno-Thompson are not the children’s parents, Williams confirmed.
“The total time between the 2-year-old initially being located by witnesses and the time the officer woke Buttera was just over an hour,” Williams said.
The children were returned to the custody of one of their parents after the incident, Williams said.