A two-year-old boy is safe with his grandfather today after he was left alone in a car outside a parish casino.
The child's mother, Pashuia Thomas, 34, of Opelousas; and two friends, Leonard Ray Boagni, 40 of Opelousas and Christine Johnson, 32, of Lawtell, were arrested and booked with child desertion.
Sheriff Bobby J. Guidroz said the investigation began on Friday evening when detectives were called to a truck stop/casino by employees there who saw a two-year-old alone in a car with the windows slightly down.
Detectives looked at security footage from the business and saw the following: First the child was inside the vehicle with Johnson. Thomas and Johnson would take turns going into the casino, Guidroz said. Each turn would last about five minutes.
Then, Thomas went into the casino and stayed there for about 45 minutes. The child is seen on the video getting out of the car, while Johnson stayed inside the car. The toddler walked alone to the restaurant part of the truck stop, and then an employee is seen on video, walking out of the truck stop with the child in her arms. The woman is seen walking through the parking lot, looking for the child's parents. After a while, she walked back into the restaurant with the child, and then Johnson exits the car and walks into the casino, the sheriff said.
The employee then is met by Boagni, who told the employee that the child belongs to his girlriend, Thomas. He took the child back to the car, placed him in the back seat, and went back into the casino - leaving the child alone in the car, the sheriff said. He returned to the car with Johnson, then they both went back into the casino, the sheriff said. Johnson was seen on video several times entering and exiting the casino, all while the child was alone in the car, the sheriff said.
When the security guard at the casino saw this activity on the surveillance cameras, he called the sheriff's office, Guidroz said.