ST. PETERSBURG — When her 4-year-old daughter was found wandering the neighborhood with a dead rabbit clutched in her hand this summer, Cynthia Main was given a warning.
Police officers told the 32-year-old mother she needed to keep better watch over the child, but they didn't think the June 30 incident rose to a criminal level. Police believe the bunny was a pet, and had died a day or two earlier.
But after Main's neighbors called 911 again on Monday evening, officers took a different approach.
Main was arrested on a child neglect charge.
Her daughter, police said, was outside alone for more than 30 minutes. Main, they said, was passed out inside her home at 4627 Burlington Ave. N.
Officers found several different prescription pill bottles at the scene.
"At first she tried to deny everything," police spokesman Mike Puetz said. "But she finally admitted she has a problem."
Child protective investigators took custody of the girl.
A spokesman for the Department of Children and Families confirmed they have had prior involvement with the family.
Puetz said a neighbor called police about 6:30 Monday after the shoe-less child, who appeared to be healthy and clean, was wandering outside on her own.
When the mother never appeared, the neighbor became concerned. She knocked at Main's door and got no response. She tried to open it and discovered it was locked.
Then she called police.
Officers didn't have much more luck. They too banged on the door, Puetz said, and called a few listed numbers.
Main eventually answered the door — partially clothed — several minutes later, Puetz said.
Officers found prescriptions from different doctors for oxycodone, tramadol and morphine, he said.
They confronted Main, and authorities said she admitted to "abusing" the drugs.
Main told officers she'd installed additional locks on her door after the incident with the rabbit this summer. But she admitted she'd been unaware her daughter was out wandering on Monday.
"She claimed she and the child went down for a nap at 6," Puetz said. "She had no explanation for how the doors were locked after the child got out."
As police interviewed Main, her boyfriend came up to the scene. He too displayed signs of impairment, officers noted in their report.
Kameel Stanley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8643.