A Florida mother is accused of leaving her 3-year-old daughter unattended in a parking lot for several hours while she worked the night shift at a strip club.
Manouchika Daniels, a 23-year-old entertainer at Vegas Cabaret, was charged with one count of child neglect after police found her disoriented 3-year-old daughter wandering around a shopping plaza parking lot adjacent to the Lauderhill strip joint, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Authorities arrived at the strip mall shortly before 2 a.m. and found a girl roaming the parking lot flanked by nail salons and chain restaurants near a highly trafficked street.
The child was “lost” and bewildered, Lt. Michael Santiago told Oxygen.com.
A driver had previously phoned police and tipped dispatchers off to the unsupervised child’s whereabouts.
“We get there, we see a child, the child is somewhat reserved, confused,” Santiago said. “We started looking for the parents, obviously something’s wrong.”
The Lauderhill police lieutenant noted that the child was found “steps away” from a busy street.
“If she would have gone the opposite way as opposed to walking into the parking lot, it would have been very tragic,” Santiago added. “I wouldn’t even want to think about what would happen to that child if she would’ve stepped out on the roadway.”
The child then led police to an unoccupied Toyota Corolla in the parking lot. Inside, authorities say they found toys strewn about, a car seat, and observed a back window that had been partially opened for ventilation.
“You had things that would be able to keep the child occupied — with the exception of a parent, or an adult. That’s the only thing we couldn’t find,” Santiago said.
It had been a “warm and muggy” night Santiago said, who noted there were concerns the girl could have been vulnerable to heat stroke. He was unable to confirm if there was water or food found in the Toyota.
“There is always a possibility of heat exposure in Southern Florida,” he added.
The child, who was described as “well cared for,” and “in good spirits,” was taken back to police headquarters.
About 30 minutes later, while police were running the Toyota’s plates, they say Daniels appeared, and identified herself as the mother.
The Florida mother allegedly told investigators that she had only left the child in the car for “a few minutes” while she dropped someone off. But Santiago said detectives found that “fishy.” Video surveillance revealed the 23-year-old had actually entered Vegas Cabaret a few minutes before 11 p.m., a few hours earlier, police said. The nightclub’s staff also corroborated this, Santiago stated.
Daniels was arrested and Child Protective Services took custody of her daughter, according to a Lauderhill Police Department press release.
“The fact of the matter is the mom failed in this case,” said Santiago. “She absolutely failed.”
Daniels is being held on a $5,000 bond at Paul Rein Detention Facility, according to online court records. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 23. Daniels, who’s being represented by a public defender, doesn’t appear to have a criminal history.
It’s unclear how long the woman was employed by Vegas Cabaret. A manager for the gentlemen’s club didn’t respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
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