PORT RICHEY — The infant was wet, from head to toe, in a dirty, sagging diaper. There were no clean diapers, clothes, wipes or formula in the 7-month-old's diaper bag — just three soiled diapers and two stolen perfume bottles.
Authorities say the two people in charge of the baby Wednesday evening planned on getting the baby food and diapers, but decided to stop at the Gulf View Square mall instead. Their 2003 Dodge Ram was pulled over in front of the mall on U.S. 19 shortly after 9 p.m. because a deputy saw a female passenger holding the baby in her lap.
The driver — Justin W. Maurer, a 31-year-old landscaper from Hudson — had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. He told deputies he ate two oxycodone pills with his dinner.
While Maurer was being questioned — and another deputy had the infant — the woman fled the scene. Maurer's arrest report says that he distracted authorities so the woman — whose identity has not been released — could make her escape.
Authorities also said Maurer gave them false names for the woman, who turned out to have several active arrest warrants, according to the report.
The relationship of Maurer to the woman and infant has not been disclosed because it is an abuse case.
Maurer was charged with driving under the influence, child neglect and obstructing police. He was released from jail Thursday on $5,150 bail.
Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, would not release information about the infant, but said in cases like this, the child either goes to family members or into state care.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.