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Mother arrested after leaving child behind

A Floral City woman was arrested Thursday night on charges of desertion and negligence after dropping her toddler off at a stranger's home and then driving off to a local bar with no apparent plans to come back. Kathy Armell, 34, had drunk at least one alcoholic beverage before she drove to the home of Lupe and Aracely Fernandez at 8398 Magnolia St. in Floral City, sheriff's records show.

Armell left her 2-year-old daughter, Robin, on the couple's porch, then drove away.

The couple told deputies they had no idea why Armell "(chose) to leave the child with strangers who did not volunteer to provide child care," the report said.

The Fernandezes said they had never met Armell.

Fernandez told the Sheriff's Office that Armell's car struck a tree in the front yard when she drove up about 8 p.m.

They said that when Armell left the little girl, she didn't leave a telephone number, address or any idea who would be back to pick up the child.

About a half hour later, a sheriff's deputy arrested Armell four blocks away in the parking lot outside Vic's Place on U.S. 41 S. She told the deputy she was a nurse at Citrus Memorial Hospital, but hospital officials Friday said she doesn't work there.

The Fernandez home is not far from where court records indicate Armell and her husband, Troy, now jailed in Citrus County on a drunken driving charge, had lived a few years ago. Armell listed her current address as 6508 Dolphin Drive.

Higginbotham said Robin was one of five Armell children. On Thursday night, Robin was turned over to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, authorities said. By Friday, she was staying with her grandfather, according to Earnestine Demming of Inverness, a friend of Armell's.

Armell's bail was set at $1,500. Her arraignment is scheduled for June 17.