News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 20, 2010

Police: Mom leaves kids alone, goes to Holiday World

Report claims no food, water in house, rodents sighted

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A mother who allegedly left three children in a rodent-infested home without food or running water while she went to Holiday World has been arrested on three counts of child neglect.

Tonya Smith, 37, of West Terre Haute, appeared Tuesday in Vigo Superior Court 1, where Judge Michael Eldred informed her of the three class-D felony allegations.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court, Patrolman George McAdams of the West Terre Haute Police reported that he was on patrol July 2 when he was approached by a person who told him that unsupervised children were located at a home in the 200 block of South Eighth Street. McAdams went to the home and made contact with two children, ages 12 and 7, who said their mother had left the home around 6 a.m. to go to Holiday World. Another child rode up into the front yard on a bicycle while the officer was there. One of the children said the home had no running water or food, and the officer then contacted Child Protective Services to investigate.

The investigation revealed that the children “were dirty, smelled bad, and appeared to have not taken a bath within a few days.” The children all had lice and their hair was matted to their heads. One child was covered in sores from head lice, and another child had stepped on a nail and complained that his foot hurt. Inside the home, investigators noticed that dogs had mange and there was dog feces in the home and smeared on the floors. Dirty clothes and trash was strewn throughout the residence and the kitchen trash can was overflowing with trash onto the floor. A rodent was seen running into an open cabinet, and condiment packets and food were on the kitchen counter.

The report states that an investigator spoke with Smith on the phone, and Smith reportedly said the children were supposed to be with relatives while she was gone.

The children were removed from the residence by CPS, and the investigation continued, leading to the arrest warrant issued Monday.

Smith requested a public defender to represent her. She will return to court for a hearing Monday.

Smith’s bail is set at $45,000 with no 10 percent allowed.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or