As millions of people either hunkered down or evacuated the path of last week’s Hurricane Irma, police say Florida father Angelo Mitchell did the unthinkable. According to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office deputies, the 36-year-old dad left his 19-month-old toddler daughter outside overnight — alone, and directly in the path of the devastating, life-threatening storm.
As Fox 13 Now reports, Hurricane Irma had become Tropical Storm Irma by the time she slammed into the Jasper, Florida, neighborhood of Angelo Mitchell late Sunday night. Despite weakening substantially after her initial landfall, Irma was still a potentially deadly storm, and authorities claim that Angelo Mitchell’s daughter spent Sunday night into Monday morning being pummeled by devastating wind and rain.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office became aware of the girl’s potential plight at around 11:30 p.m. Sunday. That’s when the child’s mother called to report her daughter missing. According to her mother, Angelo Mitchell had picked up his daughter for a visit earlier in the evening. She became distraught when Mitchell allegedly returned to her house a couple of hours later without her daughter.
When investigators spoke to the Florida father, Angelo Mitchell claimed to have never taken custody of his daughter. Despite claiming to never have picked the child up, Mitchell added that he believed her to be safe and “probably with a family friend.”
According to authorities, during his interview with investigators, Mitchell “smelled of alcohol.” In response to her mother’s concern and her father’s evasive answers about her whereabouts, Florida investigators utilized dogs in an attempt to track the 19-month old Florida toddler. Unfortunately, the inclement weather prevented the dogs from tracking the missing child.
At roughly 12:00 p.m. Monday, a neighbor of Angelo Mitchell found his daughter hunkered down on their property, almost 450 yards from the home where she’d disappeared. According to her rescuer and first responders, Mitchell’s 19-month-old toddler appeared to have purple skin. Investigators with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office believe that Angelo Mitchell left the little girl outside, exposed to the full wrath of Irma, overnight and alone.
Witnesses to the little girl’s miraculous rescue claim that Angelo Mitchell’s toddler was covered in multiple scratches and insect bites. The 19-month-old was ultimately flown to a Gainesville, Florida, hospital for emergency evaluation and treatment. By Tuesday, the toddler was determined to be in “good health” and released to her mother’s custody.
Angelo Mitchell was arrested and charged with felony child abuse on Monday; he is currently being held at the Hamilton County Jail.
Prior to his Monday arrest, Mitchell was already a convicted felon in the State of Florida. He reportedly did a year of prison time after being convicted of battery related to an instance of domestic violence. In addition to his prior conviction and time behind bars, Florida father Angelo Mitchell is currently the subject of three separate restraining orders.
Authorities have yet to speak about a potential motive in the shocking case.
[Featured Image by Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department]