Three adults who police said were so high on drugs they were barely able to speak or stand were charged with child neglect after they were found in the Walmart Supercenter late on June 18 with three young children.
One of the suspects, Lois Johnston, 42, of St. George, GA was also charged with shoplifting $280 worth of merchandise. Ms. Johnston was observed by Lt. Scotty Rhoden removing price tags from items, then stuffing them under a cover in a shopping cart — a cover that one of the children was lying upon.
Another suspect, Jason Bassile, 26, of Macclenny was also charged with possession of prescription medication.
Deputy Chris Walker said police were called to the store about 11:00 to investigate an intoxicated person inside an entrance. They found Mr. Bassile seated next to a shopping cart containing one of the children, who was asleep.
His speech was slurred and he was not able to keep his eyes open, said the officer, but said his wife Amanda Moore and Ms. Johnston were in the store shopping.
Lt. Rhoden shortly after saw Ms. Johnston attempting to steal merchandise and Deputy Walker stayed with Mr. Bassile, who telephoned Ms. Moore to tell her “...watch out, the cops are here.”
He then tossed a small container into a nearby trash can, and police found that it contained a single dose of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
Ms. Johnston was confronted when she attempted to leave the store, and the shoplifted merchandise was seized from her purse and under the blanket.
Ms. Moore was brought to the front of the store, and Deputy Walker said she admitted to taking drugs for back pain. He also observed she was drooling and having trouble speaking. The three children, four and five years old, are hers, and she had no explanation as to why she left two of them in the care of the others considering their condition.
At one point, Ms. Moore fell forward from a bench with a child in her lap.
The children were released to the custody of a grandmother.