[Hpn] Homeless mom, newborn, found and given help;Daytona Beach, Florida;6/30/01

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Mon, 02 Jul 2001 13:26:02 -0400


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Saturday, June 30, 2001
Daytona Beach News-Journal <<http://www.n-jcenter.com>
[Daytona Beach, Florida]
Homeless mom, newborn, found and given help
<http://www.n-jcenter.com/2001/Jun/30/AREA1.htm>

By PAUL NUTCHER (paul.nutcher@news-jrnl.com)
Staff Writer


DAYTONA BEACH -- A homeless woman found nursing her newborn baby in a 
laundry room Friday morning at the Westwood apartments on Bill France 
Boulevard had avoided police for days and was seeking a women's shelter, 
said an apartment manager.

After a brief search of woods south of the apartments, police and paramedics 
seeking to help the woman found her in the Volusia Plaza strip mall wearing 
a stained red shirt, black denim pants and shoes.

The mother, Leilani Louise Jones, 36, who gave police a St. Augustine 
address, voluntarily left in an EVAC ambulance with the week-old boy for 
Halifax Medical Center where the baby was admitted for observation in stable 
condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Jones was discharged from the emergency room Friday afternoon and decided to 
stay at the hospital with her baby, spokeswoman Kate Holcomb said.

Homeless advocates say the case highlights the urgent need in the community 
for an emergency shelter for homeless women who are pregnant or with 
newborns.

Paramedics received a call at 9:31 a.m. to respond to the apartment complex 
at 375 Bill France Blvd. to check on a homeless woman who had given birth in 
the laundry room, said EVAC spokesman Mark O'Keefe.

Paramedics arrived at the complex to see the woman with the week-old baby in 
her arms, O'Keefe said. As they attempted to assess the baby's medical 
condition, the woman refused to answer questions and started wandering 
toward the woods without the baby, he said.

Jeane Hale, who manages the apartments with her husband, Warren, said Jones 
had befriended her and asked her to contact the United Way of Volusia and 
Flagler Counties for assistance with food and shelter.

The arrival of an ambulance, fire truck and eventually police "terrified" 
the woman, Hale said. The Hales noted that the emergency workers and 
officers at the scene acted professionally and responded the way they were 
trained.

Police Officer Scott Raymond Frantz said he tried in vain to find the woman 
on Tuesday after an apartment maintenance worker reported seeing her in a 
vacant unit covered with a blanket. But the woman had disappeared.

"All they could tell me was she was a white female with brown hair," said 
Frantz, adding: "Not much to go on."

No baby was seen nor was there any sign of childbirth in the vacant 
apartment. The Hales said the vacant unit appeared to have been lived in for 
two weeks.

Police spokesman Sgt. Al Tolley said Jones was seen again Friday, this time 
breastfeeding a newborn in the laundry room. He said she told the Westwood 
employee who spotted her: "I'm here and I have a baby."

Officers had been alerted Tuesday to try to find her as "a safety and 
well-being matter," he said.

Where the woman gave birth remains a mystery, Tolley said.

Child welfare authorities said the newborn showed no signs of abuse or 
neglect and was admitted to the hospital until Monday as a precaution.

Pat Thigpen, district public information director for the Department of 
Children and Families, said authorities have several options for the child, 
including returning him to his mother and placing them in a temporary 
shelter in St. Augustine.

Because Volusia County lacks a shelter for women such as Jones, the mother 
and child could go to the St. Gerard's House in St. Augustine, which has 
some beds for women from Volusia and Flagler counties.

The Homeless Coalition plans to open a shelter for women in Jones' situation 
in October 2003 at the earliest, said coalition president Randy Croy.

"If anything, this case is a wake-up call to the community," Croy said.


Staff Writer Susan Wright contributed to this report.

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Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA


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