Police: Mom found high on fake pot after son told teachers

Mandi Howerton, 31, of Portage, was charged Friday in Porter Superior Court with child neglect and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Porter County Sheriff's Department photo

PORTAGE | Police found a 31-year-old woman high on synthetic marijuana after her son told school administrators he missed class the previous day because he couldn't wake her up, authorities said.

About 11:45 a.m. Thursday, an administrator at Central Elementary School told Portage police a 7-year-old student made alarming comments about his mother and his living conditions.

According to police, the boy told school staff he missed school the previous day because he was unable to wake his mother, who was asleep on the floor. He boy also said he has to cook his own food because his mother is on medication and, when she's not sleeping, she's staring at a TV.

School administrators told police they contacted Child Protective Services and attempted to call the home but got no answer.

An officer went to the home in the 5900 block of Marbella Avenue, where Mandi Howerton stared at him silently as he asked several times if he could come in the house, police said.

After Howerton let him in, she was slow and sluggish and exhibited slurred speech, police said. Howerton told the officer she took a few prescription painkillers for a toothache, police said. A bottle filled with 30 pills a week earlier only had two left, police said.

The officer went into the living room, where he found a 2-year-old child whom the woman was baby-sitting for a friend. He also smelled a strange burning odor, police said.

Howerton told the officer she had been smoking synthetic marijuana, police said. The officer found a packet of the substance, a warm smoking pipe under a couch cushion and two additional packets in a bedroom, police said.

The toddler was returned to its mother, and Howerton was arrested and taken to Porter County Jail, police said. She was formally charged Friday in Porter Superior Court with child neglect and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police said CPS was again notified of the situation and living conditions inside the home.

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