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Woman Left Girls, Slept at Mother's

Children in Shed 3 Nights, Police Told

By Arthur Santana
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 23, 2004; Page B01

A Maryland woman told police that after she locked her 4- and 5-year-old daughters in a commercial storage shed last week, she left them unattended in the cramped, unheated quarters for three nights while she spent at least one night sleeping at her mother's home, Charles County authorities said.

Felicia M. Dorsey, 33, who was freed from jail Saturday after a $50,000 bond was posted for her by a religious group, told county sheriff's investigators that she initially padlocked the two girls in the shed at 3 p.m. Tuesday, according to an affidavit released yesterday by Charles County District Court authorities.

Felicia M. Dorsey may not be the girls' mother, officials suspect.

It states that the children, before they were found Friday, spent many hours alone in the shed between Dorsey's visits, including one stretch of 22 hours.

Although Dorsey has described the two girls to authorities as her biological daughters, Norris West, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, said yesterday that social services officials suspect that she is not their mother. West declined to elaborate on the suspicion. The girls remain in the care of social workers.

Dorsey, a convenience store worker, had been homeless since being evicted from a Waldorf apartment Nov. 11, authorities said. After locking the children in the $65-a-month shed Tuesday afternoon, Dorsey "went to her mother's house where she slept for the night," the affidavit states.

The 6-by-12-foot shed, at Budget Self Storage in Waldorf, was largely filled with Dorsey's belongings and illuminated by one overhead light bulb, authorities said. Nighttime temperatures in the Washington area last week hovered in the upper 30s and low 40s. When the girls were found, they were wearing coats, authorities said.

Dorsey checked on the two youngsters in the shed at 8 a.m. Wednesday, 17 hours after she had locked them in, according to the affidavit. It states that she then returned to her mother's home, but it does not say where she spent Wednesday night.

Dorsey next visited the shed to check on the children 22 hours later, at 6 a.m. Thursday, then again at 4 p.m. Thursday, according to the affidavit. The affidavit does not say where Dorsey spent Thursday night, and authorities declined to elaborate on the document.

The affidavit states that Dorsey next visited the shed at 8:30 a.m. Friday -- 16 hours after she had last seen the two girls -- then went to her job as an assistant manager of a Dash In convenience store about two miles away.

Terry Palmer, manager of the storage facility, said he was walking the grounds about 11:30 a.m. Friday when he heard the sounds of children playing inside storage unit 110. Palmer, who did not have a key for the padlock, called the sheriff's office. After Palmer cut the lock and deputies found the girls, they summoned social workers.

Kristen Adkins, a sheriff's spokeswoman, said investigators would not comment on why Dorsey slept at her mother's house while the children were in the shed, calling it a "sensitive part of the investigation." The affidavit does not identify Dorsey's mother or give her address.

Investigators said they found no food or water in the shed with the girls. According to the affidavit, authorities found "a container filled with a substance consistent with urine" in the shed. The girls did not appear harmed or disheveled. Palmer, the storage manager, said that more than anything, the girls appeared disoriented.

Two other children, ages 12 and 13, whom Dorsey said are her son and daughter, are staying with a relative of Dorsey's, authorities said.

Dorsey, arrested Friday at the Dash In, is charged with child endangerment and leaving a child unattended. Her initial court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 29, authorities said. She remains free on bond posted by the Ministers Alliance of Charles County.

The religious group has declined to discuss Dorsey's situation or make her available for an interview. Her lawyer, Reuben Collins, also did not want to discuss the case, according to his secretary.

West, the social services spokesman, said that anyone with information about the relationship between Dorsey and the two girls should call the Charles County Department of Social Services at 301-392-6400.

Staff writer Jamie Stockwell contributed to this report.

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