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Parents arrested separately for child neglect within a few hours

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

After allegedly leaving her child with a neighbor and not returning for almost 10 hours, Kristen Michelle Blake, 34, was arrested last night for child neglect without great bodily harm and child desertion. Johnathon Kenneth Puckett, 45, was arrested at about 1:00 a.m. this morning and charged with child neglect without great bodily harm after he allegedly refused to provide diapers to the neighbor or take care of the child.

A neighbor of Blake told Alachua County Sheriff’s deputies that Blake had unexpectedly dropped her child off at the neighbor’s house around noon on Thursday with a soiled diaper, dirty clothes, and a doll. The neighbor said she waited about 3.5 hours for Blake to return and tried repeatedly to contact her before calling 911. She said that Blake had not told her when she would return but said she was going to “walk on a trail” to “cool off” because it was hot outside. The child was turned over to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) at about 8:30 p.m. Deputies searched the Holly Heights neighborhood and tried to contact Blake both via phone and at her residence, but she was not located until she approached deputies who were on the scene of another call in the area at about 9:40 p.m.

The neighbor also reported that after the child was dropped off, she walked over to Puckett’s residence to get diapers for the child; the report says that Puckett is the biological father of the child. The neighbor told deputies that Puckett refused to give her diapers and refused to take the child. When DCF took custody of the child, she was wearing a makeshift diaper made of women’s underwear and a menstrual pad.

Post Miranda, Blake reportedly told deputies that she had left the child with a bag full of toys, a dress, and some Kool-Aid packets, but the deputies did not find any of those items during their investigation. The mother also reportedly told deputies that she told the neighbor she would be back before dark, but she admitted that she had not returned before dark.

Puckett was located at his residence at about 12:47 a.m. Post Miranda, he reportedly said he gave the neighbor diapers and that she had asked him to come to her residence to care for the child and that he was not able to do that because he was waiting for someone at his residence. However, the deputy’s report noted that the child was found in a makeshift diaper, indicating that the neighbor did not have any clean diapers to use.

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Both have been released from the county jail.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

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