An overwhelmed single mother in Wake County, N.C., was arrested on Monday and charged with misdemeanor child abuse for allegedly leaving her 9-year-old daughter and 19-month-old son on the side of the road and driving away, according to police.
Jennifer Westfall, 38, recounted a different version of the events that took place earlier this month when she spoke with reporters from local Raleigh, N.C., station WTVD. The Westfall says she dropped off the children on Reedy Creek Elementary’s campus in Cary, N.C., and watched a woman lead them into the building before she drove away. “I saw the lady walk and take my kid’s hand, so I knew they were in safe hands,” she said. Westfall apparently thought this was a legal way of abandoning them.
But according to North Carolina’s Safe Surrender laws, only a newborn up to 7 days old can be legally surrendered anonymously to “a responsible adult.” This leeway is given in an attempt to prevent newborn homicide and abandonment, which is 10 times more likely in the first week of a child’s life, says the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
— Wake Mugshots (@WakeMugshots) October 30, 2018
“I feel terrible for what I did,” Westfall told a reporter while breaking down in tears. “I’ve always had my kids’ back no matter what. I was just so tired. Absolutely tired. It was wrong, but, you know, I, I’ve always fought for my kids my whole life. I’ve always fought for them, and I will fight no matter what.”
Westfall is indeed fighting, as she is due in court next month to face the misdemeanor charges of child abuse while her children have been placed in foster care, according to WTVD. Police say that despite the mom’s story, another mother taking her child to Reedy Creek Elementary witnessed Westfall drop the kids off on the side of Reedy Creek Road on October 2 and speed away. This witness claims it was she who led the children into the school, where school officials then called the police.
“I know what I did was wrong but I just, I was so tired of doing this by myself,” Westfall told a reporter, expressing her fear that she couldn’t support the children. “I have the strength to do what I need to do, but I don’t have the skills to make the income that I need to take care of my family, and nobody will hire me. I’ve been around everywhere. And with these charges, I just don’t see how I’m ever getting my kids back.”
In North Carolina, a person convicted of misdemeanor child abuse — but with no prior convictions — can face up to 60 days in jail.
Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to Westfall for further comment and will update this story when she replies.
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