A St. Peters woman who left a loaded rifle in her child’s crib was placed on probation Wednesday after pleading guilty to eight counts of endangering a child.
Cheryl D. Dudley, 36, of the 1300 block of Cave Springs Estates Drive in St. Peters, was given a suspended sentence and placed on five years probation by St. Charles County Circuit Court Judge Nancy Schneider.
St. Peters Police investigated after a neighbor reported that Dudley had tethered her then 22-month-old child to the garage with a harness. Although the child was not tied to the garage when officers arrived, Dudley said admitted she tethered the child to the garage to prevent her from running in the street.
Officers also found that Dudley kept her two children in unsanitary conditions, with dog feces, dirty diapers, dirt, cigarettes and mold on the floor, police said.
St. Charles County prosecuting attorney Tim Lohmar said he understands people who believe
Currently, the children are in the custody of the St. Charles County juvenile court, and Dudley has one hour with them per week, Lohmar said.
“It’s a difficult situation when the victims are the biological children,” Lohmar said. “The upside is that through structured conditions, maybe she can get to the point where she can assume care for her children again. And if she doesn’t meet the conditions, she knows she has a 10-year sentence hanging over her head.”
Schneider gave Dudley a 10-year prison sentence but the sentence was suspended.
Dudley must meet 17 conditions to successfully complete her five-year probation period, the prosecutor said. Among the conditions are that Dudley must continue psychiatric care and counseling and substance abuse treatment.
“One unusual condition is that she must remain on birth control,” Lohmar said.
St. Peters Police said officers walked through the home and said they reported the following conditions in the home:
- Prescription pills were left on a dresser in the toddler’s bedroom within the child’s reach. Dudley said she probably put them there because she found them on the floor. She wasn’t sure what they were, but had stolen them from her mother and brother because she hoped it would help her sleep, police reported.
- A loaded rifle was in the child’s crib. Dudley told officers she had heard noises outside and loaded the rifle and placed it in the crib because she was too tired to put it away properly.
- The toddler had flea bites and dog scratches on the arms, legs and torso because five dogs in the home had fleas. Animal Control removed the dogs from the home due to the conditions.
- The floor was covered in dog feces, dirt, mold and cigarettes.
- The refrigerator was operational, but smelled strongly of spoiled food and had a brown substance covering the inside of the door and floor of the refrigerator.
- Soiled diapers, feces, mold and cigarettes were on the basement floor.
- The 22-month-old child had bruises on her right leg. Police said the bruises appeared to be from a hand, with small bruises the size of fingers.