Police: Mom Left 3 Year Old Alone in Vehicle While Shopping at Walmart

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WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP -- Police say a mother was cited for leaving her 3-year-old child alone in a locked vehicle in Luzerne County.

Wilkes-Barre Township police say some shoppers noticed something very disturbing in the Walmart parking lot: a young child sleeping inside a vehicle with no one else with him.

“That’s crazy, should not be happening. Take your kid with you,” said Carrie Modzelewski of Wilkes-Barre.

They called 911. Police, EMS, and the township’s fire department all responded.

“When we got there, there was a little boy in the back seat,” said Capt. Clyde Moyer with Wilkes-Barre Township Fire Department. “We were getting ready to pop the door open when the mom came out of Walmart.”

According to police, Rachel Johnson of Mountain Top told officers that her 3-year-old son was sleeping when she and her three other children got to Walmart around 3:30 p.m. Monday. Not wanting to wake the child, she and the other children went inside the store.

“You leave them in the car, anybody can come and grab them,” said one shopper who didn’t want to give her name. “I take my grandchildren shopping and when they say, ‘I’m not going in that store.’ I say, ‘Yes, you are, if I have to carry you in there.'"

Johnson told officers she locked the vehicle and used the remote start function to allow the vehicle to run with the air conditioning on. However, police say vehicles started that way will shut off after 10 minutes. Johnson says she was in the store for a total of 20 minutes.

People say with the soaring temperatures, they can’t understand what she was thinking.

“It’s like what, 90 something degrees out, right?” said Ed Urban from Glen Lyon.

“On a day like today, it’s so horribly hot out,” said Margeret Burke from Nanticoke. “It wouldn’t be great to leave a 3 year old alone anywhere.”

“I wouldn’t leave my dog in my car on a winter day, let alone my child on a hot summer day,” said Bobbie Higgs from Nanticoke.

The child was determined to be fine after being checked out by paramedics.

Police say Johnson has been cited for leaving a child unattended and a referral has been made to Luzerne County Children and Youth.


  • James

    So she didn’t realize the car shut off after 10 minutes. Does it make her negligent? Yes. Criminal? Idk. I wouldn’t expect a car that I started to shut off on it’s own unless it ran out of gas.

    • ThereIsNoGod

      Purposly leaving a young child alone and unintended is a crime. So many horrible things could of happen in this situation because of her stupidity, carelessness for her own child and lack of common sense. She deserves to be publicly shamed. I do not feel bad for her. And for those who think this is acceptable are degenerates.

    • El Ma

      Are you kidding me? Leaving a child of 3 inside of a vehicle, ALONE, in a Walmart parking lot? Have you ever taken note of the people going in and out of any given Walmart, James? Anyone could have taken that child out of that car and done only-god-knows-what with a 3 year old.

      Not everyone should reproduce, even if they have the ability to. (rolling eyes)

  • Mad Dog

    I’m an electrician and have worked in two attics the past two days. The entire time I’m up there, I can’t help but imagine this is how it feels for a kid locked in a car. It’s only just that any parent who kills their kid by leaving them in a hot car, suffer the same fate. Have a live feed until the person expires. Do this once or twice and parents will start waking up all over the country.

      • Smypants

        Really good looking folk in that town. good fashion sense as well. Long grey socks, overalls and faded north Schuylkill dinkys are in these days.

  • Athens

    A woman did this in Williamsport and killed the kid. She got off scott free. No doubt this lady won’t have any repercussions from her actions and probably already has the kid back.

    • djpekala

      If you are talking about Brittany Burgess, she is currently charged with involuntary manslaughter among other charges and is awaiting trial facing a potential punishment of up to 5 years in prison on the involuntary manslaughter charge alone. Not sure I would characterize that as scott free.

      • ThereIsNoGod

        That is getting off Scott-free. Five years is nothing. Hurting or mudering a child should instantly result in death. Not sorry for saying this.

  • ThereIsNoGod

    Wow. It seems like more people here care more about dogs than children. People wanted to burn the woman who hit her dog alive, but see no problem with a mother leaving her child in a car on a hot day. But if this was a dog, people would be making death threats and condemning her to death. What is wrong with you people?? You got your lives backwards.

    • ThereIsNoGod

      You know, besides you can die from the heat more likely being a small child. But let’s not forget about the junkies, pedofiles, child abductors and murders running rampant in this area.

      • djpekala

        I care about all creatures big and small. I also care about a graduated response and action based on the facts of the case. She made a mistake of which we all agree. She has been punished by the civil authorities and she will have to further undergo an evaluation from C&Y. She has been vilified and crucified here in the court of public opinion. Where does it end?

        She has been acccused of being on welfare, an unfit parent, uneducated, and lazy all by people who do not even know her or her circumstances. When is enough enough? Am I to believe there is not a SINGLE person here who has not EVER texted while driving? Or maybe some buzzed driving? Maybe drunken driving? Done reefer in your past maybe with or without inhaling? Unsafe or unprotected sex when younger (or older)? Cheated or lied?

        She made a decision, maybe based on a misunderstanding of her remote starter, and in the end the decision was wrong. She has learned a lesson no doubt and thankfully that lesson did not come with the injury or death of the child.

        So unless those posting here who appear ready to build the gallows or gathering a large pile of stones or sharpen the guillotone can state emphatically for the record that they in the past and now are without sin, then settle down and take a deep breath. Because I know you all have skeletons in your closets that would make some great fodder here for all of the mighty and righteous.

  • djpekala


    The Vatican has just confirmed that Pope Francis has just departed Rome and is reroute to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton airport. Accompanying him is the entire College of Cardinals. In what will be an unprecedented action never before witnessed or recorded in the history of the Catholic Church the Holy Father will immediately canonize all of the saintly people who have risen up in mighty glory and indignation against the evil mother from this story.

    As quoted from Pope Francis as he boarded his airplane: “I sure hope there are plans to add an addition onto heaven because it is about to get very crowded there real soon.”.

    More on this breaking story tonight at 6 on your news station and at 6:30 with David Muir and ABC World News Tonight.

  • Archie Beal

    It couldn’t have been that big of an issue being the police only charged her with a summary citation, no different than a traffic ticket. You people really need to calm down and mind tour business. Not a Big Deal

  • Michael Cook

    This woman needs to be left in the car today without the keys and the windows up. That will send a message and she for sure won’t ever do this again.

    • djpekala

      Good idea. She can sit there with the AC running via remote start. And then sit another 10 minutes after the car shuts down.

      Or maybe we can agree she made a mistake, she is being punished via citation and most likely a visit from C&Y, and probably most painful of all being publicly flogged and degraded in the court of cowardly social media.

      I am confident she will never make a mistake like this and I am equally confident that all posting on this story, myself included, have done equally egregious acts of our own in our pasts.

      I save my stone throwing strength for real criminals and miscreants of our society like Frien, or Con-hi, or Melissa Scholl.

    • Michael Cook

      You are a fool. . The remote start only keeps the vehicle on for 10 minutes. She was in the store for 20. Not to mention the risk for kidnapping a 3 year old would have been pretty easy.

  • Alone

    I can’t understand why this continues to happen?! It’s in the news continuously: parents leaving their children home alone or in the car. Can you imagine the insecurity these children feel?

  • djpekala

    Wow. I am amazed at the high number of perfect people posting here. Never once have they made a mistake raising their children or as children themselves. Humans without sin or failure of character.


    • El Ma

      A “mistake” is miscalculating one’s bank statement. This woman made a deliberate and intentional decision to leave a very young child in a vehicle, alone, with the vehicle RUNNING. Thank GAWD, nobody decided to break out the window and abduct that child.

      There is no such thing as a “perfect” parent, of course. But, people who make calculated decisions to endanger their children as a matter of convenience are too common, anymore. We live in a world that isn’t safe, anymore. There are entirely too many sick, twisted, and warped individuals out there, and they act with impunity.

      I’m just grateful that this child wasn’t abducted, or worse.

  • Mary K

    I’m paying for the food and this animal is to lazy to even bring her meal ticket in the store wow this goes beyond the walmart ZOO record book as a new low!

    • Marvin

      She was only thinking about herself. Too much trouble to take him along. Typical self centered individual that is so common these days. Each generation is devolving into self centered narcissistic boneheads. No morals, no boundaries, no accountability, no common sense.

      • djpekala

        Respectfully you know this how about her? Are you a parent of 4 young children? Are you a parent? If so I suppose you never did anything remotely wrong with rearing your children.

        Her actions were wrong. She should have either stayed in the car waiting for her child to wake up or wake him/her up and go in.

        I understand her dilemma. I am a parent of 3 with another on the way and I get it. She will not be stoned by me. So if you are perfect please pick up that stone and give it a throw.

      • djpekala

        So “planned parenthood” given the fact that you were once a vile creature it is a pity I suppose according to your warped logic that you even exist.

  • Seriously?

    I don’t think we should condemn this woman. I think it was wrong and she made a mistake but I think we need to cut her a break. She had 3 other kids with her. She’s probably exhausted and just needed to run in the store and grab something quick. She started the car and had the a.c. on. The article didn’t state if the car was running when people noticed or when officers got there or when the mom came out. Only the approximate time the car would run on an unknown car starter. It was probably just easier and quicker for her to leave the car started and run in with her 3 older kids than wake the sleeping 3 year old and drag his screaming self through the store just to grab some bread and milk.
    She made a mistake. She’s probably a good mom and trying her best. Let’s cut her a break here. She’ll pay the fine, have C&Y investigate to make sure the kids are safe and healthy otherwise, and move on and not make this mistake again.
    I agree it was foolish and unsafe for a variety of reasons but let’s not condemn this lady and ruin her life over one mistake. It doesn’t sound like she was intentionally being negligent but she should have known better.

    • frank rizzo

      It would have been more understandable if she simply forgot the kid was in the car than to intentionally leave them in there. What kind of person does that? I hope she has to forfeit all her kids, the rest of them don’t stand a chance with a person like this as their mother. Dear Jesus!

      • djpekala

        What kind of person? A person juggling many balls. Do we know all if facts of her life? She made a mistake and had a lapse of judgement. Amazing how many perfect people here willing to cast her into the depths of hell without walking a day in her shoes.

    • El Ma

      “……just exhausted……?!” THEN WHY CONTINUE TO REPRODUCE?!?!?!?!?!

      Planned Parenthood and other agencies will provide every method of birth control available, FREE OF CHARGE.

      Children aren’t pets. They aren’t plants. They aren’t toys. They are human souls that rely upon the people who brought them into the world to make them safe, secure, and loved. If a someone isn’t willing to recognize that children require personal sacrifices, then they absolutely should NOT reproduce until they get that fact through their skulls.

      What is WRONG with this world, anymore? Someone neglects their offspring, and people are lining up to EXCUSE a deliberate decision that endangered a child that had no other options?

  • Conroy

    So what? The kid was fine and taking a nap, probably had the windows down. Jesus you people would burn someone at the stake for looking at you funny. And people wonder why our prisons are so full.

    • Lauralie89

      Have you not seen all the children that die every summer from this very act? Did you even read the full article? “So what?” You’ve gotta be kidding me.

      • Conroy

        Laural I did read it, did you? Or did you just jump to conclusions like every other idiot here. let’s look at the facts. She went in for what she says was 20 minutes with the car locked but the AC on. This car is supposed to shut off the AC in 10 minutes according to the article. That means the kid was left in the car for 10 minutes without the AC. 10 minutes, not hours. You think someone deserves punishment for that? What’s next life in prison for jaywalking? You people are all savages that love to see other people go down, even if they didn’t do anything wrong. It’s what gets you people off, it’s like a modern day version of blood sport. And it makes me sick.

      • Lauralie89

        And what if something happened while the mother was in the store? What if she was stuck in a checkout line longer than intended? What if the child suddenly had a medical emergency while she was inside? What if the ac never actually kicked on to begin with?

      • El Ma

        CONROY, she claims that she was in the store for 20 minutes. Do you honestly believe that one parent with three other young children in a Walmart is just going to zip in, and zip out in 20 minutes? How many kids do you have? Any?

        NO, she doesn’t deserve to be skinned alive, of course not. But, she should absolutely face consequences for endangering that child’s life. “Nothing happened,” doesn’t flush. That child was left alone, frightened, and feeling abandoned. Do you have any idea of what that kind of REPEATED treatment does to a child’s tender psyche?!?!

    • i_see_crazy_people

      The prisons are full because the world is full of despicable, depraved, dirt-bags. This woman doesn’t use the brain God gave her to use and anyone sticking up for her is an idiot.

      • Judge Dredd

        That’s why we need to start executing more. Prison isn’t rehab, tho it’s almost vacation for some.

  • pissedoffmom oftwo

    No question… she deserves the full 1st degree felony of endangering! Seriously? Shopping is more important then the protection of your child???

    • djpekala

      I saw stone her. Make her dig a pit on public square and pissedoffmom of two, being perfect in all ways known to man and God, gets to chuck the first rock at her head.

      Please note sarcasm is dripping here.

  • Allie

    That’s awful. People like that deserve the worst punishment allowed by law. All of these parents need to grow up and be more responsible,or stop having kids!

Comments are closed.

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