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Posted at 05:04 PM ET, 12/21/2011

Father who left toddler alone charged: police

Police on Wednesday charged a Capitol Heights man who they said left his 2-year-old daughter alone in his apartment for as long as 24 hours — surrounded by roaches, trash and a space heater that had been left on.

Anthony Venson, 24, is accused of reckless endangerment, leaving a child confined and unattended and neglect of a minor in the case. He was jailed on $25,000 bond, authorities said. His daughter — whose diaper was soiled and whose lips were crusted from dehydration when police found her — was taken into custody Tuesday by child protective services, authorities said.


Anthony Venson (Courtesy Prince George's County Police Department)
The incident first came to authorities’ attention about 12:40 p.m. Tuesday, when the 2-year-old’s mother called police to report that her daughter might have been left alone in her apartment in the 6900 block of Walker Mill Road, according to police charging documents. The mother told police she had been in the hospital since Thursday because of complications from Crohn’s disease, and Venson, the 2-year-old’s father, was supposed to taking care of the toddler.

Prince George’s County police officers arrived to find the girl alone in the apartment, wearing two soiled diapers and some type of jacket or sweater, according to authorities and police charging documents. She was hungry and thirsty, according to the documents, and her lips were crusted from a lack of water.

The apartment was “filthy,” according to authorities and the documents. Dirty clothes and dishes were scattered around the residence, which reeked of feces, according to the documents. Julie Parker, a Prince George’s County police spokeswoman, said on Twitter that the girl was “surrounded by roaches, trash & a space heater left on.”

An upstairs neighbor who asked not to be identified to protect her privacy she heard what sounded like an infant crying Tuesday afternoon, but she could not determine where the noise was coming from. She said that soon after, a rental manager rushed into her apartment, asking for diapers and wipes for the two-year-old.

“I couldn’t even eat yesterday,” the neighbor said. “It made me cry.”

The neighbor said her husband had last seen Venson with the girl Sunday, when he was pushing her around the apartment complex in a stroller. She said she had not seen the child’s mother, who also lived in the apartment, in some time, but knew that she occasionally was hospitalized.

The neighbor said Venson was a troubled young man who had occasional run-ins with the 2-year-old’s mother. In mid-November, the neighbor said she watched the 2-year-old while the mother went to seek a protective order against Venson. Court records show the order was not finalized because the mother did not appear at a hearing.

The neighbor said the 2-year-old is a “very sweet” girl, and her mother is “really nice.”

Venson returned to the apartment about 3 p.m. Tuesday and was taken into custody, said Cpl. Evan Baxter, another Prince George’s County police spokesman. Online court records show he has had several previous run-ins with police, including a 2007 robbery conviction.

It remains unclear whether the child remains in protective custody, or whether she was turned back over to her mother. Prince George’s County police spokesmen said they did not know. Pat Hines, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, declined to comment on the case.

Efforts to reach the child’s mother and relatives of Venson were unsuccessful. No one answered the door at the Capitol Heights apartment Wednesday.

By  |  05:04 PM ET, 12/21/2011

Categories:  Matt Zapotosky, Pr. George's

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