RACINE — A Racine woman is facing charges of abandonment and neglect after officials found her two young grandchildren home alone.

Michelle Marie Bennett, 48, of the 1600 block of West Street, is facing two charges of child abandonment, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, and two charges of child neglect, which carries a sentence of up to nine months in prison.

According to the criminal complaint:

At about 8:37 p.m. Saturday, Racine police responded to a call about two children being at home without an adult.

The complainant said they had knocked on the door, which was opened by a 7-year-old. They reported the 7-year-old had been cutting an onion on the counter top with a kitchen knife, cooking noodles on the stove and had given the second child, an infant, adult Nyquil and that the oven had been on at 500 degrees. They said they stepped outside to call the police and when they returned, they saw the 7-year old had another knife and was cutting a watermelon on the kitchen floor.

The officer who responded said that he saw a chopped-up watermelon on the floor with a knife next to it. On the counter there was adult Nyquil with other medications. Burnt noodles were on the stove. The officer reported a smell of marijuana and that the house was cold and “in complete disarray.”

“I saw dirty underwear on the bathroom floor, food all over the kitchen and every other room completely unorganized,” the officer reported.

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The officer went upstairs and observed that the infant was seated on the bed next to an open window with no screen. The infant had dried discharge from his nose on his face. The 7-year-old told the officer they gave the infant Nyquil because the infant was sick.

A man claiming to be the children’s uncle arrived. He told officials he left the house at 11 a.m. for work and that he did not believe another adult was in the house to care for the children. Officials reported that he appeared to be under the influence or cognitively challenged. According to the uncle, the children’s grandmother, Michelle Marie Bennett, who was their guardian, had not been home since Friday.

The complainant said the children’s mother was in prison and that the father had never been part of their life.

Both children were transported to the hospital, where they were fed and provided with medical care. Medical staff reported that the infant’s diaper was soiled and that he suffers from a medical disorder.

Hospital staff told investigators that there had been numerous incidents where Bennett had allegedly left the infant alone in a hospital room. Hospital staff stated they had threatened to contact police numerous times for abandoning the child.

Racine County Human Services was called and both children were placed in foster care.

At her initial appearance on Monday, Bennett’s cash bond was set at $500 with a signature bond of $5,000. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on May 29. She remained in custody as of Monday night at the County Jail.

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