Jacksonville day care owner arrested after child left in van for at least 2 hours, police say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Alpha Omega Learning Center owner, Marieka Richards, was arrested with one count of child neglect after leaving a child in a hot van for an excessive time, according to an arrest report obtained by Action News Jax.

The arrest report states that someone was picking up the victim from the day care on Aug. 13. One of the workers called out for the child over the PA system and the complainant overheard one of the workers say the child wasn’t there.

Richards jumped into the conversation where she said, “Don’t worry he’s here. I took his bookbag off his back.” She went on to tell one of the workers to check outside to see if the child was there, the report says.

Moments later the victim was brought inside the day care from the front entrance of the building, which faces the street.

The complainant was confused about why the child was being brought in that way. In the arrest report, the complainant describes the boy as breathing profusely, with bloodshot eyes and his T-shirt soaked from sweat.

The boy was crying when asked where he was.

“I was in the car, locked,” the victim told the complainant.

The report goes on to say that the boy pointed to a white minivan outside the day care. The minivan is used to transport children from their schools to their day care.

The complainant states in the report that the child was left in the van for at least two hours and that the vehicle was not running when she arrived at the day care.

Richards told police that she is the one in charge of checking in students as they arrive at the day care. She also said that she performed a “double-check” to account for all students.

In the report, when police told Richards it was irresponsible of the day care to not observe that all children were accounted for, she agreed.

Police then talked to the victim who said he was in the minivan for a long time and that it was hot. He told police he was banging on the windows and yelling for help, the report states.

The report notes that it was at least 86 degrees that day.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department came to the day care to evaluate the child. They told the complainant to keep the child hydrated due to his having been locked in the van.

Police then arrested Richards for child neglect. She was read her Miranda rights, after which she stated, “If you’re going to arrest me, I don’t want to talk anymore.”

Richards was transported to the Duval County Jail. She has since been released.

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