CROWN POINT — A Gary woman left her 4-year-old son in the care of a developmentally disabled teenage uncle and failed to answer the phone when the children tried to call her because the boy has disappeared July 9 while swimming at Robinson Lake in Hobart, court records allege.
Tammarashae M. Jones, 24, was charged Thursday with six counts of neglect in connection with her 4-year-old son David Flemister's drowning death.
A magistrate appointed a public defender to represent Jones during an initial hearing Friday. Not guilty pleas were entered on her behalf, and her formal appearance before Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez was set for Nov. 18.
Hobart police Detective Sgt. Nicholas Wardrip said Jones was arrested Wednesday night by Gary's Multi-Agency Gang Unit.
"David's death was a senseless tragedy and likely would have never happened had the children been supervised by an adult," he said.
Jones and her mother, Dallarshae Taylor, each told police the children went to a Salvation Army at West 49th Avenue and Harrison Street at least once a day.
Taylor said the children went at 9 a.m. and again at noon, and they typically stayed there for several hours in the afternoons, Lake Criminal Court records state.
The women told police the family had been to Robinson Lake, but the children were not permitted to go there alone, according to court documents.
Jones disputed her mother's statement that the children went to the Salvation Army at 9 am. July 9, but she recalled they went to the facility at noon that day, records state. The children usually returned home from "recreation" between 3 and 4 p.m., she told police.
Staff at the Salvation Army told police Flemister and his uncles and brothers had been at the facility about 8:50 a.m. for breakfast and returned about 11 a.m. to eat lunch. The facility opened only for breakfast and lunch, and did not offer a recreational or summer camp program last summer, records say.
Jones claimed she asked her sister if the children had a phone when they didn't return home and learned they did. However, she did not attempt to call them "because she did not think about it," documents allege.
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Jones did not work at the time and was home all day, records say.
Witnesses told police Flemister arrived with a group of other children about 3:30 p.m. One woman told police she saw Flemister in the water about 4:30 p.m., but one of his companions approached her a short time later and asked to use her phone so he could call his mother because Flemister was missing, records say.
Jones never answered the phone, records allege.
A man told police he was swimming with his child when a girl told him a body or snake was in the water. He told the girl nothing was in the water, but about 15 minutes later he saw a white shirt and grabbed Flemister out of the water, records say.
A man called 911 while his fiance performed CPR on Flemister until police arrived.
Hobart police responded to Robinson Lake Park about 5:30 p.m. July 9 for a drowning victim who was not breathing. Police and medics also attempted to resuscitate Flemister, but he was pronounced dead at St. Mary Medical Center at 6:08 p.m.
Flemister had been staying with his father in Indianapolis and had returned to Gary only days before his death, records say.