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Mom charged with neglect after boy found in street in underwear

Natalie Ridenour, 26, of St. Augustine, arrested on child neglect charge

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A St. Augustine mother who was already on probation for burglary now faces one count of child neglect after deputies said her young son was found wandering a street by himself. 

Natalie Ridenour, 26, was arrested Sunday afternoon after St. Johns County sheriff's deputies said she failed to properly supervise her 3-year-old son. 

According to an arrest affidavit, obtained by News4Jax, Ridenour’s son was only wearing underwear when he was found walking by himself on Francis Street near Helen Street.

Neighbor Anthony Iannotta told News4Jax that he spotted the child in the middle of the street and quickly grabbed the boy after he was nearly hit by an oncoming car.

"Me and my girlfriend were outside, see this kid running down the road, and a car came speeding by and almost clipped him. Didn't even stop here. So we did what we needed to do -- we grabbed the kid," Iannotta said. "It's not every day you see a kid in his underwear, 3 feet high, screaming, 'Momma,' with no one in sight."

Initially, no one recognized the child or knew his parents, so deputies initiated a door-to-door sweep of the area and later located the boy’s mother nearly two blocks away. Deputies said the front door was open and Ridenour was asleep. Deputies also found another child inside the residence. 

"My kid can't even get away from me for five seconds without me chasing him down," Iannotta said. "I couldn't imagine not locking the doors even and going to sleep."

Neighbors, including Iannotta, said the child was lucky, because he was found on a very well-traveled thoroughfare.

"That could have been my kid. It could have been your kid," Iannotta said. "If someone doesn't step up and do the right thing, that kid could have been clipped. Someone could have snatched him and kidnapped him. He'd be gone."

Alicia Cline told News4Jax that she rented a room in the home to Ridenour. She said she doesn't understand how this could have happened.

"Well, my thoughts are she shouldn't have been sleeping, first of all, especially because of her babies," Cline said. "And I have children myself."

The Department of Child and Family Services was notified and both children were handed over to their grandmother after their mother was arrested. 

"It's extremely disturbing," Cline said. "I'm glad the grandparents have the kids now, so they'll be sage and looked after."

Ridenour is currently on probation for burglary, so in addition to the child neglect charge, she is also facing a charge of probation violation. 

She was booked into the St. Johns County jail, where she's being held without bond, jail records show.


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