Bartlesville mother of neglected toddler sent to boot camp

Saturday, December 13th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY - The mother of a toddler found sleeping alone in a tent beside railroad tracks has been sent to a women's prison boot camp after pleading guilty to felony child neglect.

Samantha Marie Abell White's 3-year-old daughter was found covered in lice, scabies and a skin rash when authorities went to a transient camp in south Oklahoma City to investigate a stabbing June 5, 2002.

Cockroaches crawled in and out of the toddler's diaper, her hair was matted and the tent was littered with dirty diapers and trash, police Officer Wayland Cubit found.

EMSA workers vomited because the smell of urine was so overwhelming where little Shawntana Abell slept.

Oklahoma County District Judge Virgil Black gave White, 26, a 15-year suspended sentence this week, plus ordered her to attend the boot camp. The camp could take up to a year.

White has given up her parental rights to her daughter, now 4, who is in a foster home.

She is eight months pregnant and officials said they plan to take custody of the baby.

"We are not in the business of going after the poor, but when you allow your child to live in such horrific conditions to the point the little girl suffered, we have to step in and do something," Assistant District Attorney Sarah McAmis said.

Defense attorney John K. Rush said the child was never beaten and was reasonably healthy.

In a report issued before White was sentenced, investigators said she told them she came to Oklahoma City after an argument with her mother in Bartlesville.

White and her daughter originally went to the City Rescue Mission, but left after a disagreement over taking showers and watching her daughter.

She got married in April and was living with her husband in a one-bedroom house that state Corrections Department investigators described as filthy, according to the pre-sentencing report.