The parents of at least three children were arrested on November 10 on felony child neglect charges after they were found to have left a toddler unsupervised at their house at 57 Blare Castle Drive in Palm Coast, where the toddler’s sisters, 13 and 14, were also left without supervision.
Robert J. Goodman, 39, and Chelsea K. Wright were on the property when Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a caller noticing something amiss there. But both were incapacitated when the deputies showed up.
The caller at around 9:30 that morning had noticed a person slumped over in a car that had been poorly parked in front of the house, prompting the arrival of deputies. The person was Wright, who was in a pool of vomit when the deputy managed to awaken her. She was confused and somewhat incoherent at first, as if unable to comprehend where she was or why she was there, in the deputy’s description. “What’s the problem?” she asked the deputy. “What’s going on?” A neighbor informed emergency responders that children live at the house. But no one answered the door after repeated call-outs.
Finally a deputy opened the door, which had been left ajar, and noticed a toddler, referred to as RG, hiding in a bedroom. As the deputy approached, RG, who was crying and unclothed, made his way toward the deputy, arms outstretched in the gesture begging for contact and affection before immediately clutching the deputy’s leg. As the deputy checked the room and the rest of the house, numerous hazardous items were found, including a hunting style knife that had been within reach of the child, pieces of wood with protruding nails (there were several renovation projects in the house), a second knife on the floor, an open back porch door and glass from a broken window. The Department of Children and Families’ social worker who responded found a bottle of Soboxone, the narcotic, that had also been within reach of the child.
Wright was unable toi explain what had happened or where she had been, allowing only that “I had left… and… what was I doing?… Something… I’m still trying to gather my thoughts because I don’t want DCF, I don’t want anybody else.” She said she’d had a substance abuse in the past, drank, “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” but didn’t do anything “hardcore.”
Deputies found the two girls in their bedroom, where they’d been asleep. A man showed up at the house looking for Goodman, whom everyone in the house assumed had left for work as he usually did at 6. He had not. They found him slumped over and unresponsive, at first, in a bathroom. When he woke up, he explained to deputies that he’d had some Nyquil and beer and fallen asleep. After trying to get clearer explanations from Goodman, the deputy concluded that the only truthful explanations of what had taken place in the previous 12 hours were from the two girls.
They said their mother had come and gone from the house twice between 8 p.m. the night before and 4 a.m. that morning. The girls tried to wake up Goodman. He was entirely unresponsive. They reached Wright by cell phone and asked her to come home. They couldn’t remember whether she had by the time they went to sleep. But at some point Wright woke them up to tell them they didn’t have to go to school the next day (what would have been November 10) but only because she wanted them to watch the toddler.
The girls told deputies they’ve felt more like the toddler’s parents than Wight or Goodman were, taking care of him, and taking him with them when they’d visit friends, at Wright’s and Goodman’s request.
DCF determined that a neighbor was well acquainted with the children to take care of them when their parents were arrested and taken to the Flagler County jail. Goodman bonded out. Wright remains in jail on $2,500 bond. Both face a third-degree felony charge. In a previous arrest on a domestic battery charge on Wright that was dropped, deputies had responded to the same house but encountered a different child belonging to Goodman, and no mention of the girls, though Wright at the time was pregnant with RG. There was no reference to that different child during Wednesday’s incident.