An official missing child alert was announced today for Altamonte Springs, Florida, mom who disappeared with her 7-month-old daughter. Cops dispatched to the home found a pot farm growing the woman’s back yard, and child neglect is suspected.
New York Daily News reports that the police officers were dispatched to the home of Jessica Elizabeth McCreery, 21, for a child welfare check, but instead of finding the mom and her baby, they discovered a large marijuana crop growing behind an outdoor wall. The baby’s father, 46-year-old David Hogarth, was home when the police arrived, and now faces charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of narcotics equipment, marijuana possession with intent to sell, and child neglect.
Hogarth was released from jail on bail, but he claims he doesn’t know where McCreery, his girlfriend, or his infant may have went to. In fact, he indicated to police that “you’ll never find them.”
Neighbors informed police that McCreery and the infant haven’t been seen in the last five days.
The discovery of the marijuana farm comes days after Children’s Services responded to a concern that the baby may be malnourished, weighing only around 10 to 13 pounds.
Several days later, police went to the home to follow up. Altamonte Springs Police Officer Robert Pelton stated that although Hogarth refused to let them inside the residence, he told police to look through a window, which allowed police to uncover the growing marijuana.
“May 12, when we executed that search warrant at that residence, there was no evidence that a child ever lived there. On May 5 when we were at the residence doing our initial contact with Child Services, we noted there was a crib, baby food and other things in the back of the residence. Of course David wouldn’t let us in the residence, we peered through the back windows at his instruction, to see those things. But when we executed that search warrant on May 12 there was little evidence that child ever lived there.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued an official missing child alert today, and are asking the public’s assistance in locating McCreery’s whereabouts. The baby, Penelope, is thought to be with her. They were both last seen at a nearby Publix on May 5.
The baby, who wasn’t born in a hospital, has no medical records for Child Services to go by, and although there was no cause to remove the baby from the home on May 5, there is concern that the 7-month-old is failing to thrive.
Police indicate that they are not planning to take Penelope from her mother at this time. However, they need to ensure that the infant is healthy.
“What we hope to find is Jessica and Penelope healthy, safe and contacting us soon.”
Anyone with any information on McCreery should call 911 immediately. At this time, foul play is not suspected, but authorities are growing concerned for the safety of both mother and baby.
Both McCreery and infant Penelope are alive and well. Although her whereabouts are still hidden, Hogarth’s attorney, Mark O’Mara confirmed through pictures taken today that McCreery and Penelope are doing fine.
[Photos Courtesy of Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and Mark O’Mara]