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Toddler wandered off for a second time, police say

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston mother drank, fell asleep and her 2-year-old son walked out of the house alone Saturday, police said.

The same toddler was found wandering alone in the Patrick Street Plaza early Friday. Police said it was an accident and did not file charges on Friday.

But after the second incident Freda A. Gilmore, 20, of Charleston, was charged with child neglect creating risk of injury, a felony.

Gilmore told police she drank two 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor from 9 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

Before Gilmore went to sleep, she told police she left her son with Jeffrey Knuckles, of Charleston. At some point, Knuckles also fell asleep and the child unlocked the door and walked out onto Hanna Drive, according to the complaint.

A neighbor stopped the toddler, called police and Cpl. R.C. Basford arrived. He woke Gilmore up and allegedly smelled alcohol coming from her breath.

Gilmore told the officer she left her son with Knuckles because, "she had been up all night drinking alcohol," according to the complaint.

Basford arrested Gilmore and Child Protective Services took custody of the boy.

Gilmore had previously lost custody of her son and the boy was living with his grandmother on Patrick Street. Gilmore picked her son up after seeing him on the news Friday night. Police said the toddler's uncle was watching him after the boy's grandmother was admitted to the hospital. The boy's uncle fell asleep Friday night and the child wandered out alone. He was later found unharmed.

Police told reporters they did not press charges because the boy's uncle was sober and the child got out accidentally.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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