LILBURN -- A parent returning to retrieve a lost blanket led police late last week to a home where they found 10 children unattended and what they believe was an unlicensed day care operation.
Lilburn Police Capt. Thom Bardugon said a woman who previously left her kids to be watched at a house at 5170 Arrowind Road returned on Thursday to get a blanket, but heard several kids and no adults. The woman knocked on the door, but no one answered, so she called the woman who owns the house, who said her sister was there.
A series of statements to police didn't add up, and Melissa Elis Brown, who lives at the house, and Tusharia Ann McKoy of Lawrenceville, were each charged with second degree cruelty to children. They were each booked in the Gwinnett jail on Thursday and were released on Friday, according to jail records.
Twenty minutes after the woman arrived for the blanket, without finding an adult, she called Lilburn Police, and when officers arrived, they found a backdoor unlocked, but still no adults.
Bardugon said they found 10 children in the house, who ranged in age from eight months to 10 years old, a bath tub about three-quarters full of water and an unlocked child proof safety lock on a cabinet that contained chemicals, such as bleach. They also found several piles of trash, he said.
After police were there about 10 minutes, Brown and McKoy showed up in separate vehicles, and Brown said a different person from her sister should have been at the house.
"There was obviously no one ever there," Bardugon said.
The children were not hurt and were returned to their parents. Brown denied running a day care operation because she said seven of the children were related to her. McKoy said the other three children were hers, and two women who are parents of the children said they paid Brown to watch their children, though she doesn't have a day care license, Bardugon said.
A white, plastic sign that police obtained near the house listed Brown's phone number, "daycare," and "$100 per week," Bardugon said.
On Monday afternoon, neighbors reported to police that they witnessed children being dropped off at the home, Bardugon said, and he added that additional charges related to a business license, may be pending.
Representatives from the Division of Family and Children Services and the city's code enforcement division were each at the house and conducted their own investigation, Bardugon said.