Florida mother arrested after 'hundreds of bugs' crawl out of daughter's backpack inside school's lunchroom
A Florida mother was arrested and charged last week after she was reported to the authorities when "hundreds of bugs" crawled out of her daughter's backpack while she was inside her elementary school's lunchroom.
According to the Pensacola News Journal, 33-year-old Jessica Stevenson, of Milton, was taken into custody last Friday, May 3, after a staffer at the Bagdad Elementary School reported the conditions of three of her children who attended the school to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The employee said she noticed Stevenson's daughter, who studied at the school in the second-grade, wearing the same clothing for an entire week in April, and that she found the child's body odor hard to ignore.
They said that when the girl was questioned, she did not know when her last bath had been, and also brought up how "hundreds of bugs" crawled out of the student's backpack in the lunchroom.
They said she had to be given new clothing after her old clothes were "severely soiled" with dirt caked into the fabric, with another teacher at the school backing that claim to investigators. She also stated that she knew another one of the siblings had similarly been given new clothing on multiple occasions by the school.
The teacher said that the new outfit would then be worn continuously, day-after-day until it was worn out and that the child was frequently crying, "having meltdowns," and seemed depressed.
Following the reports against Stevenson, the children's caretaker, the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office opened an investigation into the living conditions of the three students, as well as their two other siblings who attended different schools.
When deputies visited her residence, they discovered a cockroach infestation, with a report on the case stating, "The roaches were on nearly every surface in the home” including “on the children’s mattress, in the pots and pans in the kitchen, and inside the cabinets/fridge."
They also found that the cabinets were empty of food, a plugged in microwave dangling out of a window by its cord, and the refrigerator containing nothing but two cartons of rancid milk, spoiled eggs, and a stick of butter. The report said the home was "filthy" with the exception of the caretaker's bedroom, which was reportedly clean with minimal roaches.
Stevenson has been charged with five counts of child abuse and was also given a no-contact order for her children. She made bond, which was set at $12,500, the day after her arrest and was released from custody, and has insisted she is not in the wrong.
The 33-year-old defended herself to Wear-TV, saying, "I'm not a bad mom, I do everything I can. I work hard." She claimed she was a single mother with low-income and that the costs associated with her charges were making things even harder for her.
If found guilty on all five counts of child abuse, Stevenson faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.