NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. - A local mother is facing child neglect charges after investigators say they found her babies, one a 16-month old, the other 5 months old, screaming inside a cockroach-infested home Saturday.
Deputies with the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office were at the home investigating a string of burglaries in the area. NCSO went on to arrest two teenage suspects who were hiding in a closet inside the same house where they found the kids.
Action News Jax is not naming the suspects because of their ages, but deputies say both admitted to burglarizing multiple places in the area, including Springhill Baptist Church in June.
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Mother’s out of jail
Randi Christner, 24, is the Nassau County mother who was arrested Saturday, and has since been released from jail after posting bond.
On Monday, she wanted to know why Action News Jax reporter Ryan Nelson was at her house.
When Nelson tried to question her on camera, she walked away.
Deputies said on Saturday they found one of her babies in a bouncer, not fastened in, and told us the bouncer was sitting on a couch.
Investigators claim in a report obtained by Action News Jax, the other child was in a playpen with several cockroaches crawling around him.
The report says investigators were searching for baby formula to feed the screaming kids, and found the formula in a diaper bag with dead and alive cockroaches inside.
While investigators say they found two stand-alone oscillating fans in the house, they say there was no A/C in the home.
The report claims a 10-inch knife was found within reach of one child and that both babies had multiple bug bites.
While Christner declined to comment, Nelson spoke one-on-one with the grandmother of the children on the father’s side, Jeanette Scott. She also lives in the home.
“Is it true what [Nassau County deputies] were saying about the bug bites, or about the cockroaches?” asked Nelson.
“They took pictures of my home. They can say anything they want,” said Scott. “Nobody’s home is exactly spotless. Especially when you do have children. We’ll be fighting that.”
How deputies uncovered child neglect case
Deputies began their investigation Saturday after speaking to one of the robbery victims in person.
The victim called for help after saying he had confronted the suspects, and one of the suspects pulled a gun on him.
“The victim said that [one of the suspects] pulled out a black firearm from his waistband and pointed it at him and stated, “I will blow your brains out.” This caused the victim to fear for his life. The juveniles then took off running on foot on Santa Juana Road towards Old Nassauville Road,” the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office said in a release.
The victim pointed deputies in the direction of the suspects, and the teenagers were spotted at the Petunia Court home where Christner would later be arrested.
Investigators say they went inside after hearing the children screaming.
“Deputies knocked on the back door several times and announced who they were. When no one came to the door and fearing for the children’s safety and welfare the deputies opened the door and went inside,” said the NCSO.
Deputies say a man was inside the home with the babies but admitted to being "passed out drunk”.
DCF took custody of children
According to the report, the children were taken into state Department of Children and Families custody.
We’ve reached out to DCF officials asking what will happen to the babies.
As soon as we have a response, we’ll be sure to update you.
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