Mother charged after children walk more than a mile to Walmart alone

Dollita Okine April 29, 2024
Photo: Seminole County Sheriffs Office

38-year-old Tanice Spence-Clarke was arrested and charged with child neglect without physical harm after police say she let her two children walk 1.2 miles over State Road 436 in Casselberry alone. The mother had left the children unsupervised for almost three hours, the police said.

A concerned woman who saw the two boys left unattended at the Walmart on SR-436 in Casselberry quickly approached a police officer at approximately 6:45 p.m. Saturday, leading to the arrest.

According to Fox35, the woman claimed in the arrest affidavit that the two children arrived approximately 45 minutes earlier. She even made an unsuccessful attempt to reach their mother via phone and social media. No information about the children’s ages was disclosed.

The children told the woman that the last location they saw their mother was at a barbershop on the 900 block of SR-436, according to an arrest affidavit from the Casselberry Police Department. 

The woman went to the barbershop to see whether the children’s mother was there, but she was unsuccessful. However, the barbers confirmed that the two children had arrived earlier after their mother had dropped them off.

According to the police statement, the children walked 1.2 miles from the barbershop to Walmart, crossing SR-436, a major roadway with a high volume of traffic, unaccompanied.

The mother was unreachable via phone, despite the police’s best efforts to contact her. They did, however, speak with the boy’s father, but the affidavit states that he was “completely unaware” of their whereabouts. He headed to Walmart and provided the police with Spence-Clarke’s other number, which went straight to voicemail.

Spence-Clarke arrived at Walmart at 8 p.m., authorities said. After being read her Miranda Rights, she said that she was unable to describe what had transpired. She would often contradict herself, alter her story, or run out of things to say, according to the affidavit. In addition, she gave the cops a cell phone number that nobody else had.

Spence-Clarke stated in the affidavit that she went to the neighboring Bravo Supermarket on SR-436 to buy groceries while her children got haircuts at the barbershop. According to the police, she was unable to produce a receipt and had no groceries in her car.

She related another tale about how she called her brother-in-law and sister for assistance when her car broke down, which would explain why there weren’t any groceries in her car because they were transported to another one.

But the brother-in-law was “confused” by the police’s inquiries about the mechanical problem when he got to the premises. He claimed that, at roughly 5:30 p.m., Spence-Clarke arrived home.

“Yet another contradiction to her many recollections of events, which further enhances the likelihood of her culpable negligence towards the two juveniles,” according to the statement.

The affidavit stated that Spence-Clark was working as a caregiver but did not provide further details.

“Spence-Clarke willfully by culpable negligence failed or omitted to provide (her two sons) with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain (her two sons’) physical or mental health,” the affidavit said. “By leaving (her two sons) unsupervised for an estimated 3 house she did not know where they were. As well as she was also unable to be contacted by employees at Walmart or law enforcement and not contacting law enforcement when she noticed that (her two sons) were missing.” 

She was transferred to Seminole County Jail and later released after paying a $2,500 bond, according to court documents.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 29, 2024


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