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Published: Saturday, 9/19/2009

Mich. mom charged in abandoning her toddler

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ADRIAN - An Adrian-area woman accused of abandoning her 3-year-old daughter along busy U.S. 223 in Palmyra Township was arraigned Friday in Lenawee County District Court.

Brandy Michelle Wellman, 30, was ordered held in the Lenawee County jail in lieu of $200,000 bond. She is charged with one count each of felony child abandonment and second-degree child abuse.

The charges stem from an investigation that began early Tuesday after the toddler was found in the eastbound lane of U.S. 223 near Van Highway.

Undersheriff Jim Anderson said a truck driver came upon the girl as she was running on the roadway about 2:30 a.m. He said the girl was unable to tell deputies her last name or where she lived.

It was unclear how long the girl had been left alone on the roadway.

The identity of the child was cleared up about three hours later when the sheriff's office got a call from the Wellman residence in Madison Township, nearly 4 1/2 miles from where the girl was found, reporting that the girl was missing.

Undersheriff Anderson said Ms. Wellman was arrested after an investigation placed doubt into her initial claim that the child had wandered out of the house through an open window, as well as a later statement that the girl had been kidnapped.

Authorities said the woman took her daughter from the home and drove to the location on U.S. 223, dumping her on the highway.

"It will be an interesting case when it all comes to light," he said.

"We still have a lot of unanswered questions. Thank God the truck driver saw her."

Family Independence Agency, which provides child-protective services in the county, removed the girl from the residence and put her in the care of a foster family.

If convicted, Ms. Wellman faces a 10-year prison sentence on the child abandonment charge and an additional four years on the child-abuse offense.

In October, 2003, felony child-abuse charges were dropped against a Palmyra father who was accused of forcing his children to walk nearly five miles to school.

That incident involving girls, ages 7 and 10, also occurred on U.S. 223.



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