Protecting Children Of Parents Stricken With Mental Illness

Police in Osceola County, Florida arrested a mother who forced her three-year-old and eight-year-old children to drink bleach before trying to kill herself outside a church.

According to police, the 36-year-old mother was arrested on an outstanding warrant after deputies found and transported the suspect and her two children, including the toddler who was unconscious inside the car, from the church to a hospital. The three-year-old died at the hospital, and the eight-year-old was medically assessed and released to a family member.

The suspect was previously facing attempted murder and aggravated battery charges in Orange County.

The suspect went to a family member's home before the incident. She told the relative that she was going to surrender herself to the police, but before she would do that, she wanted to have time with her children. She took both of her children and left the family member's home. Several hours later, she called the family member and told her that she had killed her three-year-old and the eight-year-old was also going to die. Then, she would kill herself.

The sheriff said the suspect said she did this to her children because the previous victim in Orange County "must have put a voodoo spell on her," and this caused her to harm her children.

The Sheriff's office said the suspect is now facing attempted murder and aggravated child abuse charges, in addition to her previous charges out of Orange County. Samantha Dunne "3-year-old killed, child injured when Poinciana mother made them drink bleach, sheriff says," (May 10, 2022).

Commentary and Checklist

Child abuse reports involved 7.1 million children and 90.6 percent of victims are mistreated by one or both parents. Unfortunately, only 3.1 million children received prevention and post-response services.

The ASPCC estimates that 1,750 children died from abuse and neglect in 2020. This is equivalent to five children dying from child abuse every day, and 80.6 percent of 2020 child fatalities involved at least one parent.

The suspect in the article had already been accused of attempted murder and aggravated battery of an adult, who she thinks put a hex on her. She killed one of her children, poisoned the other, and threatened suicide.

What steps could safe adults have taken in a situation where children are with a risk adult?

  • Call 911, if you believe a child is in immediate danger.
  • If you have concerns for a child's safety, but it is not immediate, call the police or child protective services.
  • Help authorities by being specific about the threat such as the type of threat made and descriptions of the children.
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