A neighbor and friend of LaDawn Jump - accused of abandoning her 14-month-old son for weeks, stopping in every few days to feed and clean him - says she always saw Jump but rarely the child.
The woman, who asked to be identified only as “Marie,” said Jump came over almost daily since July to drink coffee or watch television.
Jump sometimes brought her 2-year-old daughter, Ariel, Marie said, but it was three months before she saw the little boy, Damon.
“I came home one day and she was holding him in her arms,” Marie told the South County Journal. “I was like, ‘Where has he been all this time?”’ She did not see him again.
In interviews last week, Jump said she never bonded with her son - that his health problems made him fussy and difficult. Damon was born with a heart defect.
Jump, 21, was arrested Nov. 13 after a police officer kicked in her apartment door when the building was being evacuated because of a fire in another unit. The officer found the filthy, thin child alone.
Jump says she left the boy behind when she moved in with a new boyfriend a month earlier because she was afraid the man would feel crowded by two children. She said she’d check on Damon every few days, leaving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cheese for him to eat.
Marie and others in the apartment building say they’d have been willing to take care of Damon, but his mother never asked.
“If I’d have known he was there for four weeks, I’d have taken him myself,” Marie said.
Both Jump’s children are now in foster care.
Jump faces charges of second-degree child abandonment and prosecutors say they will seek an exceptional sentence of five years - well beyond the standard-range penalty of one to three months - if convicted.