Police: Randolph Woman Charged With Endangering Three-Month-Old
Officer Jeremy Perkins instructs Patricia Dice, of Randolph, to gather 3-month-old baby Michael’s things, including his car seat, and put them into a car brought by Officer Vince Cunningham in West Lebanon yesterday. Passersby called the authorities when they noticed the baby in the car. Twenty minutes elapsed between a 911 call about the baby being left in the car and when Dice returned to the car, according to police. Dice did not give a last name for Michael, who she said she has custody of. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Patricia Dice, of Randolph, holds three-month-old Michael -- Dice did not give a last name for the baby, who she said she has custody of. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
West Lebanon — Police arrested a 63-year-old Randolph woman yesterday afternoon on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child after she allegedly left her 3-month-old grandson alone in her car for about 20 minutes while shopping on the Route 12A strip.
Before she was taken away in a Lebanon police car, Patricia Dice, who is the grandmother and the legal guardian of the 3-month-old, told a reporter that she was shopping inside the All Around Towne photography store and became distracted.
Shortly before that, Dice had returned to her car to find Senior Officer Jeremy Perkins waiting with her grandson, Michael. In an exchange witnessed by a reporter, Perkins listened to Dice’s explanation for leaving the infant unattended, then dismissed it.
“There’s not an excuse in the world you could give me that would justify leaving a baby in the car for that long,” he told her. “I’m a parent and that is unacceptable.”
Perkins also challenged Dice’s claim that she had checked on the child’s welfare just a few minutes earlier.
“That’s a load of crap,” he told her. Explaining that police had received a call 20 minutes earlier and he had been there for 10, he said, “That baby’s been out here for 20 minutes.”
Lebanon Interim Police Chief Gary Smith yesterday said that Dice was released on $2,500 bail and would appear in Lebanon Circuit Court on May 13. When asked about the child, Smith said that Vermont’s Department for Children and Families would be notified of his grandmother’s arrest.
The drama unfolded in the Colonial Plaza parking lot, where the photo store is located. After responding to the call and finding the child in an unlocked Subaru, bystanders watched over the infant as Perkins went from door to door at plaza businesses looking for the car’s owner. Dice returned shortly after 2 p.m.
Perkins declined to comment at the scene, but bystanders recounted how the events unfolded before that.
Erin Bjorkman, of Sharon, said she called police to alert them to the baby inside the car after her friend Brittany Tassone noticed the child was left unattended.
Bjorkman, who works at Walgreens nearby with her friend Tassone, was getting her nails done in the salon next door. She said the baby was discovered by Tassone, who was walking Bjorkman’s pitbull puppy, Dante, past the Subaru.
Tassone said the dog stopped at the car and refused to go any farther, beginning to whine. That’s when Tassone noticed the baby inside in a car seat. While the sun was shining yesterday afternoon, the temperature hovered in the mid-50s and a brisk wind was blowing. Tassone and Bjorkman remarked that the baby wasn’t wearing sleeves, a hat, a jacket, or a blanket as Dice attempted to console her grandson, who was crying, before Dice was taken into custody.
Bjorkman stated that she heard Dice explain earlier that she was afraid the baby’s crying might cause commotion in the photography store while she shopped.
Tassone described herself as relieved that the child appeared to be OK, but she shuddered at the thought of what could have happened, including kidnapping.
“Any person could have come and took that baby,” said Tassone.
Valley News Editor Jeffrey Good contributed to this article. Ben Conarck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3213.
The caption for a photograph accompanying this story has been amended to correct an earlier error. The following correction appeared in the Wednesday, April 10 edition of the Valley News:
Twenty minutes elapsed between a 911 call about a baby left in a car and when the infant's grandmother returned to the car, according to police. A photo caption accompanying a story in yesterday's Valley News misstated the timing.