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Police charge Rock Hill mother of infant burned after being left near heater

By Jonathan McFadden
jmcfadden@heraldonline.com
GD81UBL2M.3
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Rakeshia Johnson

ROCK HILL The mother of a Rock Hill infant who was burned when he was left too close to a heater two months ago is accused of unlawful conduct toward a child after police say her 5-month-old son sat in a car seat near the heater while she was asleep.

Police on Tuesday arrested Rakeshia Johnson, 23, and charged her with unlawful conduct toward a child. She was released from jail on a $6,000 personal recognizance bond.

On Jan. 5, a caseworker with the York County office of the Department of Social Services requested that police help her perform a welfare check at an Evans Avenue home, between North Cherry and Celanese roads. Officials with Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte had called DSS after admitting an infant boy who was going to be taken to a burn center in Chapel Hill, N.C., for severe burns on his arms and legs.

Police learned that the boy, born last August, was burned at about 8:30 a.m. that day after one of his siblings moved him next to a heater while Johnson was asleep, according to a police report. The child had been in a car seat on the living room floor. Authorities realized the infant was left near the heater for several minutes until he started crying. Police say the heater was mounted into a wall and equipped for many older-style homes.

Two days after the boy was taken to the hospital, a police detective went to the home to execute a search warrant, according to police records. Once inside, the detective saw that there was no stove in the kitchen and only a couple of cans of food on a shelf. There was no food in the refrigerator.

The 40-year-old grandmother – and mother of the teenage girl – told police there was no food in the house because she buys food daily for the kids to eat.

The teenage girl told police she did not eat breakfast that morning “and rarely does,” the report states. She told police she ate lunch at school earlier that day but she does not always eat dinner. Police found two mattresses on the floor of the bedroom, the report states. Detectives could find no other bedding.

The boy’s father declined to comment on Wednesday, aside from saying that what’s been reported has not really happened.

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