SPRING HILL — As the children ran around Wednesday morning chasing their loose dogs in front of their Spring Hill home, two loaded handguns sat within easy reach in the kitchen, authorities said.
When a deputy arrived at 3366 Catfish Cove, the parents were nowhere to be found, according to a Hernando County Sheriff Office's report. The 5- and 6-year-old children told the deputy that their mother kept them home from school so she could go to work and had left them alone in the past for a day while she went to work, according to the report.
Neither child knew about dialing 911 or what to do in case of an emergency, the report said.
By 11 a.m., Leah Isabella Davis had been arrested on child neglect charges and her children were in the care of the state Department of Children and Families.
Davis, 37, arrived home about an hour after the deputy arrived and told authorities she left the children at home while she went to work to report that she would not be able to work that day. When asked why she hadn't called in, Davis said she was unable to reach anyone by phone.
"When asked why she did not take the children with her, she advised that they were not dressed," Deputy Paul Smith wrote.
Davis said her husband had gone to work about 6 a.m., "Well before she made the decision to leave the children unattended," Smith wrote.
Authorities found a loaded .38-caliber handgun "in plain sight on top of the refrigerator where it was easily accessible to both children," Smith wrote. He noted that near the refrigerator was a 4-foot-high bar stool that the children could easily climb to have access to the gun.
Smith also found a loaded .25-caliber handgun on top of a cabinet next to the refrigerator, also within reach of the children.
Davis said she was unaware that the guns had been left there and said her husband might have left them there. She showed Smith a lockbox that could be used to store the guns.
"The defendant admitted she made a bad decision to leave the children unattended, and she was aware of the consequences of the children being home alone," Smith wrote.
Davis was being held in Hernando County Jail on Wednesday on two counts of child neglect. Her bail was set at $4,000.
Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.