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Clay County mom claims she found needles in kids' Halloween candy

Check your Halloween candy for suspicious treats

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The Clay County Sheriff's Office is investigating a mother's claims that her children were given candy with needles hidden inside when they went out trick-or-treating for Halloween.

In response to Tina Cavender's complaint, the Sheriff's Office went door-to-door Thursday handing out notices warning parents to inspect their candy in case it may have been tampered with.

Assistant Chief Keith Padgett said deputies spent the afternoon retracing Cavender's steps, and they believe the candy may have been given out in the Pine Ridge Plantation neighborhood in Middleburg.

"The investigation is still active, but thankfully, we have not received any other complaints," Padgett said. "We have been blanketing the area, speaking with residents and researching this further."

The investigation began after Cavender posted images on Facebook showing needles sticking out of a Kit Kat candy bar and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.

Within hours of the Facebook post going up, Cavender's claim spawned a debate over whether the post was legitimate or a hoax. She said she never expected her post would take on a life of its own.

"I just figured, 'Okay, check your candy and make sure it's okay,' because this is what happened," she told News4Jax. "I didn't think it would be this huge, hateful thing."

Cavender was visibly shaken discussing her discovery. She said she was just trying to do the right thing by posting a warning for fellow parents and getting law enforcement involved.

"It's very hurtful when people say not nice things about you, and all you wanted to do was help somebody not get hurt," she said.

Despite the mother's claims, numerous social media users and some neighbors in Pine Ridge remain skeptical about the post's legitimacy.

"It's very hard to believe in this neighborhood," said resident Tony Gagliano. "It's a great neighborhood. Quiet. A lot of kids."

WATCH: Clay County deputies investigating Halloween candy

How to spot suspicious candy

Parents are urged to check their children's candy to keep little ones safe on Halloween. It's important to know what your child is consuming, and learn how to spot suspicious treats.

When your children bring their goody bags home, you should sort through their candy and check for the following things:

  • Unusual appearance or any discoloration
  • Tiny pinholes or tears in wrappers
  • Unwrapped items
  • Homemade items or baked goods (these should be thrown out unless you personally know who handed them out)

If you have any doubts about an item your child received while they were trick-or-treating, it is best to err on the side of caution and throw it in the garbage.

As a matter of practice, you should tell your children to never accept anything that isn't commercially wrapped.

WJXT4 Scott Johnson shares what we know so far about the allegations of tainted Halloween candy in Clay County. Read more: https://bit.ly/2OiRLMs

Posted by WJXT4 The Local Station / News4JAX on Thursday, November 1, 2018

About the Authors:

Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.