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UPDATE: Sex offender living in Porter hospital lot left baby alone, police said

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Shanelle Carlson

Shanelle Carlson

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP — A registered sex offender from California, who was living in her vehicle outside Northwest Health Porter Hospital, was taken to jail after officials discovered she had left her 1-year-old son in the unlocked vehicle for nearly an hour while visiting her hospitalized boyfriend, county police said.

Shanelle Carlson, 35, was charged Friday with a felony count of neglect of a dependent, which carries a potential sentence of up to two and a half years behind bars, court records show.

Bond was set at $1,000 cash and $10,000 surety, according to records.

Porter County police were called to the hospital, located at the intersection of Indiana 49 and U.S. 6, at about 10 a.m. Thursday and were told security found the baby in a car seat in the rear passenger area of the vehicle.

The front passenger door of the vehicle was secured by a ratchet strap, and the locking mechanism appeared to be broken, police said. The vehicle was described by police as a 2013 Ford Escort Goldline Camper.

Hospital officials told police Carlson had been causing disturbances on the second floor of the hospital for the past couple of days when she would visit her boyfriend, who was a patient, the incident report states.

Nurses noticed Thursday that Carlson did not have her baby with her as usual, police said. When they asked about the whereabouts of her child, "she indicated to them that the baby was fine, and he was in her vehicle."

Security searched and located the baby in the vehicle parked in the emergency room parking lot, police said.

Carlson reportedly told police she, her boyfriend and child had moved from Sacramento, California, to Indiana five days prior. The group had stayed with a friend in La Crosse the first two days but had to move because the situation became dangerous.

She said her 41-year-old boyfriend had been admitted to Northwest Health Porter Hospital three days prior, and she and her baby had been living in the vehicle in the hospital parking lot, according to the incident report.

Carlson claimed to have left the baby alone for 10 minutes Thursday morning while going into the hospital to talk to nursing staff about her boyfriend, police said.

"Shanelle advised she felt (the child) would be safe inside the vehicle, as he was in his car seat and the vehicle's doors were all locked," according to the police report.

Video surveillance footage showed Carlson entered the hospital without the child at 9:10 a.m. and then was escorted out with security at 9:58 a.m., amounting to the child being left alone for 48 minutes, police said.

Carlson is a registered sex offender out of Los Angeles with a non-compliant registration status, according to police.

"She indicated that she did not know she had to check in with law enforcement every time she moved, and she indicated she often was homeless, which complicated the issue for her," the incident report states.

Indiana Department of Child Services was notified and took the child as Carlson's boyfriend was hospitalized and thus unable to care for the baby, police said.

Animal control also was contacted and reportedly took a cat that was also found in the vehicle.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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