Police: Day care owner left toddler alone before death

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. - A police report says the owner of an Alpharetta residential day care left a 3-year-old by himself on the playground so she could discipline another child.

Police say the 3-year-old later hanged himself on a piece of twine.

Police are still investigating all of the details about what led up to the child's tragic death and said charges are still possible.

Neighbors said they are stunned and defended the owner of Ms. Janna’s Home Daycare.

“I think it was a very unfortunate accident,” neighbor Marie Young told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik.

Young said she saw police responding to her neighbor's home day care Tuesday on Shady Grove Lane in Alpharetta. That’s where investigators say 3-year-old Thomas Stephens hanged himself on a piece of twine while playing on a slide.

“That poor baby and that poor lady.  It's a shame that it had to happen,” said Young.

From her home Young said she often saw the small children playing at the day care.

"They seem to be very happy over there, the children, when I'd see them in the backyard,” she told Petchenik.

Neighbor Marcus Gaffney said he saw the same.

“We could watch the kids on the back slide playing and they're always having a good time,” he said.

Thursday, state officials ordered the facility shut down after finding violations. Records show an inspector noted safety concerns back in January including “wheelbarrow located against the left fence,” “unraveled water hose" and "two protruding nails (from a) wooden ladder."

Nobody answered the door when Petchenik went back to the home Friday. A short time later someone drove off.

Thursday night the owner's mother told Channel 2’s Carl Willis, “We’re praying for that family.”

Gaffney said he thinks the day care should be able to open again.

“I think if they were cleared by the state, they should be able to,” he said.

Channel 2 received the following statement from the day care owner Janna Thompson.

“We, as a family known as Ms. Janna's Home Daycare, are deeply grieving the tragic accidental loss of this precious child.  I have cared for Max in my home for three years and he was loved as one of my own.  My grief pales in comparison to that of his parents.  We are a family of faith and abiding trust in our Lord Jesus.  Please give your support and prayers for his family as we look to the Lord for His help during this difficult time.”


Channel 2 Action News

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