OCKLAWAHA, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – Two mothers were arrested on Mother’s Day after deserting their young children to partake in a boozy boat trip on Lake Weir.
The children of 27-year-old Billie Jean Williams and 28-year-old Mary Daffron approached staff at a nearby Gator Joe’s restaurant to tell them that they could not find their mothers. According to the Ocala Star-Banner, the children, ages 6 and 8, also told the staff members assisting them that they suspected their mothers had deserted them.
Deputies from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene. A search of the area found that the mothers were indeed missing, and that their belongings had been left undisturbed on a nearby beach.
An incident report made available to the paper indicated that a high school friend of one mother, who identified himself only as “John,” told authorities that he had seen the women boarding a boat an hour prior to the deputies’ arrival.
Eventually, the boat approached the beach at the conclusion of its tour. As the boat reached Gator Joe’s, the women attempted to leave. Due to their intoxicated states, however, the women reportedly fell into the water instead by accident.
Police subsequently approached the women about abandoning their child. After Williams scolded the 8-year-old for having deputies called to the scene, she told police that John was the child’s godfather – despite not knowing his last name. The child also told police that Sunday was the first time they had ever met the man.
The women were arrested after authorities determined that the children were abandoned for almost an hour, the Star-Banner reported. They were both charged with one count of child neglect. Daffron was also charged with resisting arrest without violence after attempting to pull away from officers.
They were taken to the Marion County Jail, while the children were placed in the care of family. As of Monday, Daffron was reportedly still in prison with her bail set at $5,500. Williams was released from prison Sunday night after posting a $5,000 bond, the paper was told by police.
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