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Woman Who Left Five Children At Hospital Charged With Abandonment

June 21, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ Child-welfare officials sought temporary custody of five children Tuesday after their mother was charged with abandonment for leaving them without explanation at a hospital emergency room.

Brenda Shed, 31, who had been cited for neglect two years earlier, was arrested early Tuesday after being interviewed by police and caseworkers for the state Department of Children and Family Services, said Police Youth Division Officer Terry Belinski.

She was held pending a bail hearing and also is scheduled for a probable cause hearing Wednesday on the felony abandonment charge, Belinski said.

Ms. Shed was cited by the DCFS for neglect in 1986 and her four children then were placed in foster care for seven months, said Dave Schneidman, a spokesman for the child-welfare agency.

Police said she had been arrested previously on shoplifting charges, and Schneidman said she admitted to having a codeine habit in Tuesday’s interview.

The five children, girls aged 2, 4 and 5 and twin 9-year-old boys, remained in an emergency shelter while DCFS officials sought a court order to obtain temporary custody.

Officials also were trying to find the children a foster home.

″She’ll get to see the kids at some point, but they haven’t asked to see her,″ said Schneidman. ″They seem to be pretty passive about their fate and she (the mother) does too. And that’s usually a bad sign.

″People in this situation usually show some emotion. They scream, they cry, they defend themselves,″ he said.

The children were examined Monday and found to be healthy. They were well- dressed and the three school-aged children had schoolbooks, said Belinski.

Police said Ms. Shed told them she was ″financially stressed″ and had been evicted from a private apartment into which she moved three months earlier from public housing.

According to Ms. Shed’s account, her 40-year-old sister, Dorothy, came to the apartment as they were being evicted Monday and said she would drive the family to a public-aid shelter.

Instead, Dorothy Shed drove to Cook County Hospital and, while her younger sister waited in the car, took the children to the emergency room. There, she left Brenda Shed’s name and told a security guard, ″I’ll pick these children up Thursday.″

Youth Division officers picked up Dorothy Shed late Monday and charged her with contributing to the dependency of a child, a misdemeanor, said Belinski. She is scheduled to appear in court July 8.

But Schneidman said the children gave a different account.

″They said their aunt was driving around and trying to give their mother advice, but that their mother seemed to be interested only in talking about her boyfriend,″ said Schneidman.

″They said the aunt became disgusted and drove to the county hospital because it’s one of the few places where poor people feel welcome and where she knew they’d get attention,″ he continued.

Schneidman said Brenda Shed was cited for neglect in 1986 after the children were found living alone for four days with only ″minimal food,″ and a neighbor looking in on them once a day.

But a Juvenile Court judge ordered the family reunited in November 1986, and ″called the case closed,″ said Schneidman. ″There was no follow-up investigation since then.″