Underweight Baby Penelope and Panicked Mommy Jessica McCreery Surface

Jun 11, 2015

The hunt for underweight Baby Penelope has finally ended when her panicked mom, Jessica McCreery, surfaced in Florida with the 8-month-old infant and agreed to cooperate with authorities. 

McCreery and her 46-year-old boyfriend David Hogarth, the child’s biological father, have been under investigation for child neglect since May of 2015.

Seminole County Child Protective Services apparently had reason for concern about the couple’s newborn so employees visited the Altamonte Springs, Florida residence in which McCreery, Hogarth and Penelope were living.

Child welfare workers found the baby weighed only 10-13 pounds, well below the 17 pounds typical for an infant her age, so they told McCreery that a doctor should examine Penelope. To that point, no physician ever examined the malnourished baby before, as McCreery had given birth at home.

But, terrified her custody might be taken from her, McCreery then fled the state with her child.

When Altamonte authorities showed up for their follow-up visit, Hogarth told them his girlfriend had fled with their daughter. Thereafter, authorities discovered 12 marijuana plants hidden behind a faux wall in the home and arrested Hogarth who was subsequently released on bail.

Police accused Hogarth of three marijuana offenses in the matter, in addition to child neglect.

On Friday, May 9, 2015, a warrant was issued for Jessica McCreery too, because she failed to show that a physician had examined Penelope. However, her attorneys worked out an agreement with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office under which she agreed to return to Central Florida and cooperate with authorities who put Penelope in foster care.

Thus, both McCreery and Hogarth were in court this week for a hearing in the child neglect case -- a hearing that Circuit Judge John Galluzzo ordered closed -- after which McCreery addressed reporters at a press conference in front of the courthouse.

She told them “I did overreact,” in attempting to flee jurisdiction, adding, “I just want a happy, healthy baby, and I want to do everything in my power to get her back to me.”

McCreery also complained she was “frustrated” at being unable to see Baby Penelope and wished to resume breastfeeding.

The foster family does allow her visitations but has asked for third-party supervision of such visits, resulting in a lengthy delay that McCreery’s lawyer says is “not only unfair to Jesse but unfair and bad for the baby.”

Reporters asked McCreery how often she fed the emaciated-looking baby, to which she answered Penelope was fed on demand and commented that, “I knew she was small; babies are small.”

The neglect case spotlights the fact that no special training or knowledge is required for entering parenthood, but that perhaps it is time to start demanding it.

Denise Noe

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