An arrest was made after two small children were found freezing outside and unattended in downtown Lawrenceburg Monday morning.
Jarad Elsen. Photo by Dearborn County Sheriff's Dept.
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – A man told police that leaving two young children alone in a home while he went to purchase cigarettes and visit a casino was a bad idea.
Jarad Elsen, 29, has been charged with two Counts of Criminal Confinement (level 5 felony) and two counts of Neglect of a Dependent (level 6 felony) after the two toddlers were found wandering outside on a cold morning in downtown Lawrenceburg on Monday.
According to Dearborn-Ohio County Prosecutor Lynn Deddens, three concerned citizens entered the Lawrenceburg Police Department carrying a three-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy.
“Officers observed the little boy to be wearing a t-shirt, diaper and socks. The little girl was wearing only a top, a purple jacket, one sock, one sandal,” said Deddens.
One of the citizens stated that he observed the children running south on Arch Street. Worried for their safety and not seeing an adult, he along with two others stopped and picked the children up. The witness went on to say that they were unsure how long the children were outside before
they encountered them.
Lawrenceburg Police contacting the Indiana Department of Child Services. Dearborn County Dispatch used the Smart 911 system to alert citizens in the area in hopes of tracking down the parents. The local fire department and county emergency management shared the notification on social media.
Meanwhile, officers began to canvas the neighborhood. A woman told them the children may belong to a home on the 400 block of St. Clair Street. Officers went to the home and found the front door open.
Officers went inside, Deddens said, and observed pictured of the same kids on the wall. They also found garbage on the floor, overflowing cans in the kitchen, and an open loaf of bread on the kitchen floor.
A gate in a hallway separated the bedrooms from access to the living room and kitchen area. It was closed with a zip tie.
“This gate did not go all the way to the floor,” said Deddens.
Officers also located a phone number for the homeowner. She stated the children were hers and that she was on her way home from work.
“The mother was hysterical and stated that Jarad Elsen was to be home watching the children. The mother gave officers Elsen's telephone number. Officers attempted to make contact with him. A voicemail was left,” according to the prosecutor.
The mother arrived and told police she left for work at approximately 6:15 a.m. Elsen, her boyfriend, was to stay home with the kids until he went to work for the third shift.
When police were speaking with the mother, Elsen called her cell. He came to meet officers at the police station.
Elsen allegedly stated that the children woke up at 4 a.m. and stayed up with him until 9 a.m. and they all went back to sleep. Around 10 a.m., Elsen claimed he left the residence to get cigarettes and walked back home.
“When he got back to the house, Elsen stayed for about 10 minutes and then left for Hollywood Casino. Elsen stated that he zip tied the gate in the hallway to keep the kids from leaving their rooms and getting into the kitchen where the food is and to any other area of the house,” Deddens explained.
Elsen allegedly told authorities that he did not even attempt to contact another adult to watch the kids while he was gone.
Elsen was arrested and booked into jail at the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center on Monday. He has not yet been assigned a bond amount.