Woman faces child neglect charges after police say they found her son alone in a car while she gambled

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ST. THOMAS - V.I. Police arrested a woman after they said they found her son crying in a vehicle in the middle of the night while she was seated before a slot machine.

Laurene Battiste, 44, of Hospital Ground, is facing child neglect charges after police said she left her son, whose age is unknown, in the car for more than a half-hour while she was in a gambling center at 12:40 a.m. Saturday.

An off-duty police officer was walking through the Sky Ride parking lot early Saturday morning when she heard a child crying for his mother, according to court documents made available Tuesday.

The officer looked around and spotted a child in a vehicle with the windows ajar, according to a probable cause fact sheet. The officer then called 911.

"I asked the child for his mommy, and the child said, 'She over there,' and pointed in the direction of the gaming center that's located in the Sky Ride building," the off-duty officer told V.I. Police Officer Jose Mendez, who was on duty and was the responding officer.

Mendez took the boy with him and walked into the gaming center asking for the parent of the child, at which point Battiste claimed her son, Mendez said.

Battiste later stated that she had only gone into the gaming center to call her boyfriend.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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