WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – The mother of two young children found wandering by themselves in Warren pleaded not guilty to two counts of child endangering at her arraignment Friday.
Thursday evening, around 6:30 p.m., two employees of the Rite Aid on Parkman Road said they found two boys, 4 and 5 years old, playing in the store. At first, they thought the children’s parent was waiting at the pharmacy but when they realized the kids were alone, they asked them questions and called 911.
The boys told the employees they “walked there to buy things by themselves,” according to a police report.
“I just don’t think, you know, she realizes what she has and how serious it could have been. They could have been injured, they could have been kidnapped,” said one of the store’s employees.
Officers were able to track down the mother, 24-year-old Rebecca Rice, at her apartment, which is more than half a mile away from the store.
When police arrived, they said the door was open and they saw a man jumping out her window. She told them she had been sleeping, police said.
“We’re lucky. Any time young children get out in the city unsupervised, you know that can be serious injury or death,” said Tim Schaffner, executive director of Trumbull County Children Services.
Officers said she never asked if her children were alright.
Rice is being held in the Trumbull County Jail without bond. A judge ordered she not contact her kids unless Children Services approves. She’s due back in court on Feb. 6.
According to police, the temperature was 31 degrees at the time. They said the boys probably would have had to walk 20 minutes to get to the store.