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Police say 2-year-old boy was locked outside when father overdosed, passed out

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CUMBERLAND, Ind. (June 2, 2015) - A Cumberland man faces neglect and drug possession charges after police say he overdosed on pills and passed out while his 2-year-old son was locked outside.

A neighbor in the 12000 block of East Washington Street called 911 around 9:30 Monday night after noticing a 2-year-old boy who appeared to be locked outside his parents’ home.  The boy was wearing a diaper and a t-shirt while locked out on the back porch of the house.

The neighbor told police he went to knock on the door when he saw 21-year-old Nathan Shelton, lying face down on a bed with a gun sticking out the back of his pants.  Shelton’s 7-month-old son could be seen crying on the bed next to Shelton.

The children’s mother, 24-year-old Whitney Jensen, says Shelton was supposed to be watching the two boys while she went to a dentist appointment Monday evening.  She says she was at the dentist’s office, when she got a call from Cumberland Police.

“They told me that my oldest son was locked out of the house,” Jensen said.  “And my youngest was on the bed next to him while he was passed out with a gun in his back pocket.”

“We immediately looked in the back window and there was an adult male laying on the bed face down,” said Cumberland Police Major James Riddle.  “With a firearm in the back of his pants and another infant laying next to him crying.”

Major Riddle says multiple attempts to wake Shelton from outside the house failed.  He says officers broke down a door to get into the home, but Shelton only woke up after officers lifted him off the bed.

“We wanted to secure the children and the firearm first,” Riddle said.  “We didn’t know if the man was breathing, or exactly what the situation was until we got inside.”

Next to the bed, police found a pill bottle containing Xanax, which Shelton did not have a prescription for.  The bottle also continued another drug that was prescribed to Shelton.

“It was a narcotic that they use to help people get off of pain medication,” Riddle said.

Police also found marijuana in the home.

Jensen says she was not aware of any illegal drug use by Shelton when she left the children in his care.  She arrived home to find both her children safe with police, and Shelton in handcuffs.

“So all I did was I hugged him and told him that I loved him,” Jensen said.  “Because I still love him, you know, he’s the father of my kids.  But I know what he did was wrong.”

It’s not clear exactly how long the 2-year-old boy was locked out on the back porch, but Riddle estimated it may have been about an hour.  While officers were on the scene, they allowed the boy to continue playing with toys on the porch until they saw the child was able to climb over a makeshift safety gate.

“All he had to do was get off the porch and walk around the house and there’s U.S. 40 right there,” Riddle said.

After arresting Shelton on charges of neglect and drug possession, police allowed the children to remain at home with Jensen.  They also contacted the Department of Child Services so they can conduct further investigation.

“We take this kind of thing very seriously,” Riddle said.  “And we don’t want this to be a standard practice for him or anyone else where they can take narcotics and try to take care of children at the same time.”

Jensen says although she loves Shelton, she has to put the safety of her children first.

“I want him to get clean and be in his kids’ life,” Jensen said.


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