Cynthia Tavonne Goodwin, 28, of 286 Paynetown Road, and Nekeshya Lachole Richburg, 24, of 508 Eleanor Ave., are each accused of contributing to a juvenile’s delinquency or neglect. They are the mothers of a 1-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy who were found unattended by city police.
The charges stem from a Monday afternoon incident at Mount Airy Business Center at 906 W. Pine St., described as an Internet lounge where a type of online video gambling takes place.
A witness who had come to a nearby dance studio to pick up his child noticed the other two children alone in a 1987 Dodge Shadow parked outside the Internet center.
“He saw them on his way into the studio,” said Officer R.B. Davis, who investigated the matter after that man called the police department, “and he saw them on his way out.” After notifying police, the witness waited near the car to make sure nothing happened to the children in the meantime.
Davis then went to the scene with another officer, J.R. Hodge. “And when we arrived, they were still in the vehicle,” Davis said of the kids. He estimated that they were left unattended at least 15 to 20 minutes, but said surveillance video pulled from the business could show the period was longer.
The misdemeanor charges subsequently were filed against the two mothers after an investigation that included statements from employees of Mount Airy Business Center as well as Goodwin and Richburg.
Based on the mothers’ account, one of the women had arrived there to pick up her sister who was playing sweepstakes games. However, Davis said the investigation indicated that their actions were “not as simple” as one coming in to get the other and then hurrying back out to the waiting children.
“Fortunately, in this situation weather wasn’t a factor,” the investigating officer added. While the children were found to be OK, there was potential for a tragic outcome, he said.
“Anyone could have come by and given anything to the children or taken them, or done basically anything they wanted to do,” Davis said. He also said that since the business is on a well-traveled highway, the children might have wandered into the street while the two adults were inside.
After being charged, Goodwin and Richburg were released on written promises to appear in Surry District Court on May 19.
Contact Tom Joyce at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1924.