Sheffield Children Found Alone, Mother Charged With Abuse


Sarah Leeann Cline (Photo Courtesy Sheffield Police Department)

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A Sheffield woman is in custody, accused of leaving her two small children alone in what authorities describe as deplorable conditions.

Authorities were called to the Colbert Square Apartments on Tuesday to find the two children alone.  Both are under two years old.  Police say the mother, Sarah Leeann Cline, showed up to the apartment 30 minutes after they arrived.

Police went to Apartment 702 on an anonymous tip.   According to police, the caller was concerned about the welfare of the two children.

"As soon as we walked in, we found a small child sitting in a car seat in the front room, in front of the TV," said Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray.

Chief Ray says a 20-month-old child was sitting in a pool of urine.  With no adults in sight, police continued to search the apartment.

"We kept looking and kept looking and initially didn't find anyone else," said Ray.  "And then we finally found another small child under a blanket, covered from head to toe in another room in the back of the house."

Investigators say both children appeared to be suffering from malnourishment and dehydration.  Thirty minutes after police arrived, the mother of the children, Cline, returned to the apartment.

Police arrested her on the spot.  She is charged with willful abuse of a child.

"You can't see anything that justifies this or anything," said Ray.  "Any kind of good coming from this other than maybe these kids will be out of this atmosphere they were in and safe."

Police say both children were taken to Helen Keller Hospital for treatment.  Both are expected to make a full recovery.

Cline remains in custody.   The two children who were found in the apartment are in the custody of the Department of Human Resources.  Cline also has two other children who are in DHR's care as well.

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