A Waldorf woman charged with leaving her two young children in a padlocked storage shed was released last night after a $50,000 bond was posted by a Charles County religious organization, authorities said.
Authorities said Felicia Maxine Dorsey, 33, might have been living in the 6-by-12-foot storage unit about a week and left her daughters in the shed during the day Friday. She was evicted from her apartment a week before her arrest Friday, authorities said.
Dorsey is charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and two counts of leaving a child unattended, Charles County sheriff's office spokeswoman Kristen Adkins said.
Dorsey was released on bail about 10 last night, the sheriff's office said. Her release was obtained by the Ministers Alliance of Charles County.
"We've been trying to address" the problem of homelessness in the county and we "couldn't see someone caught up in this suffering more," said Sandy Washington, a spokeswoman for the alliance. She said that Dorsey was placed in a hotel and that the alliance will try to assist her in finding a home for her and her children.
Dorsey's 4- and 5-year-old daughters were placed Friday in the custody of the county Department of Social Services. Dorsey's other children -- a 12-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy -- were in the custody of a relative in Waldorf, police said.
It could not be determined yesterday whether Dorsey had an attorney. James Dorsey, a relative, declined to comment yesterday when he opened the door at his Waldorf apartment. A hearing in the case is set for tomorrow.
It also was unclear yesterday whether Felicia Dorsey left the girls in the shed during the day all week, or whether they had been there only Friday, when they were discovered by Terry Palmer, manager of Budget Self Storage on Irongate Drive.
Palmer said it was about 11:30 a.m. when he walked past unit 110 -- a shed in a row of dozens -- and heard children's voices. He said he asked, "Who's in there?" and the storage unit went quiet. He called police.
Dorsey had rented the unit a week earlier, paying $65 cash for the first month's rent and $10 for a 24-hour access card, Palmer said.
Budget Self Storage has three one-story buildings lined with rolling metal doors that open into the storage units.
The business is in a commercial-industrial area of Waldorf, about two miles from the Dash In convenience store, where Dorsey worked and was arrested. The metal rolling door to Dorsey's unit is about 4 feet wide and 6 feet tall.
When three sheriff's deputies arrived and the lock was cut off the door, Palmer said, they did not immediately see the girls. Eventually, they found the pair hiding amid furniture and other items in the unit.
Authorities said the children did not appear to be neglected or abused. Police and Dorsey's acquaintances have speculated that she ran into a financial hard spot and was unable to find someone to care for her children while she was at work.
"The kids were well-behaved and seemed happy," Palmer said. "They didn't seem withdrawn from the police or social workers."
Palmer said he was skeptical that Dorsey had been living in the shed for a week but acknowledged that it is possible.
"There was hardly any room for them," he said, referring to the young girls. "I don't know how [Felicia Dorsey] would have managed" to stay in the storage unit, as well.
"I never knew her to be particularly friendly with anybody," said Joan Wilson, who lives in the Palmer Apartments in Waldorf, where Dorsey lived until she was evicted Nov. 11.
Wilson said Dorsey lived in the apartment for at least four years and often walked to work.
Other neighbors said Dorsey worked at a nearby Safeway for several years before getting a job as a clerk at the Dash In.
Another neighbor, who declined to give her name for fear of embarrassing Dorsey, said she was baffled by the accusations. "If someone would have come to my door and explained the situation, we would have helped," the neighbor said.
Staff writers Clarence Williams and Martin Weil and staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.