It's a nightmare scenario for any parent: mom runs into a gas station just for a minute, leaves her toddler and her keys in the SUV, and someone jumps in the vehicle and takes off.
The unidentified woman who lived that scenario on Tuesday was reunited with her child, safe and sound, a short time later. But it's chilling to imagine how tragic it could have turned out.
"Children shouldn't be unattended. Keys should be with the person operating the vehicle," said Jackson Police Deputy Chief Brent Winstead on Tuesday.
A handful of states have laws specifically addressing leaving a child alone in a vehicle. Mississippi does not appear to be one of them.
Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith says, in the case of Tuesday's kidnapping outside the Jasco gas station on Terry Road, there's no charge that would stick against the parent. "She would not be responsible in any way," he says.
Smith says, although the mother in this case could have used better judgment, this is not a case of neglect, which is much more clear.
"Leaving them for days at a time, causing severe harm, that would definitely be neglect. But most people, or some people, have done exactly what she did, only intend to go in for just a few minutes, come right out," he says.
25-year-old Charles Watson is charged with auto theft and kidnapping in the crime. He's expected to make his first court appearance Friday.
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