The Panama City Police Department is investigating an incident where two children, ages 8 and 5, were left unattended in a hotel room.
On June 5, 2013, at approximately 2:00 pm, officers and detectives responded to the American Quality Lodge, located at 4810 W. Hwy. 98 in Panama City. Employees of the hotel said they received several calls from one of the rooms and the caller was a small child who said she was scared and hungry. At approximately 1:00 pm, employees went to the room and located the children alone. The children were taken by the employees to the office and cared for while they attempted to locate the mother.
After the attempts failed, employees notified police. Officers, detectives, and Department of Children and Families investigators began to search for the mother and investigate the incident. At approximately 3:30 pm, the mother arrived at the hotel and said she left only for a few minutes. She was identified as Valencia T. Rhodes, 28 years of age.
During the investigation it was learned Rhodes checked into the hotel the day before. The children were left alone in the room and directed by Rhodes to not use the phone. Rhodes was arrested for Child Neglect and transported to the Bay County Jail. The children remained with the Department of Children and Families who were making arrangements to place the children with a guardian.
This incident remains under investigation. If you have any information in reference to this case, please contact Detective Kelly McLaughlin at the Panama City Police Department, 850-872-3100, or you can report your tips anonymously to CrimeStoppers at 850-785-TIPS.