Mother whose toddler tested positive for meth bound over on abuse charges

·2 min read

Jun. 23—A 37-year-old Carthage mother whose 2-year-old son tested positive for intake of methamphetamine waived a preliminary hearing Thursday on child abuse charges.

Dawndee R. Alton waived the hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court on felony counts of child abuse, child endangerment and resisting arrest. Associate Court Judge Joseph Hensley set her initial appearance in a trial division of the court on July 20.

Alton brought her 2-year-old son on Jan. 2, 2021, to Mercy Hospital Carthage in respiratory distress and told hospital staff that he had been acting in an erratic manner, rubbing his chest, sweating profusely and breathing heavily, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

A medical assessment of the boy determined that he was under the influence of meth, and state child abuse investigators removed both him and his 6-year-old brother from Alton's care out of concern for their welfare. During an interview at the Children's Center in Joplin, the older boy purportedly told investigators that his mother sometimes left a bag with white powder out on a counter in their apartment.

Alton and the older boy were tested for drugs, according to the affidavit. The boy's tests came back negative, but his mother's tests were positive for both meth and marijuana, the document alleges.

Alton told police that her youngest son had been in the bathroom with two other children the day he got sick. She had found him lying on a pile of clothing and became concerned with his condition. But there had been no drugs or other harmful substances near him to her knowledge, she said.

According to the affidavit, four other children had been removed from Alton's care and placed in protective custody prior to the removal of the two boys in January 2021.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.