Parents of young kids found wandering accused of neglect

Jacksonville officers report finding feces throughout their Westside home

By Brittany Muller - Reporter, Joy Purdy - 5:30, 6:30 & 11 p.m. anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After neighbors reported to police finding two young children wandering outside in a Westside neighborhood Saturday and their father passed out inside the home, both parents were arrested and charged with child neglect.

According to the police report, officers found trash and human feces in the living room, on the kitchen walls and on the carpet of each of the bedrooms floors of this house on Woodcrest Road, off Lakeshore Boulevard. JSO also found the bathtub was filled with water and there was nothing from keeping the kids from entering the tub.

John Wingate, 36, and Jessica Miller, 33, were charged with child neglect. They both were released Tuesday on their own recognizance. Wingate returned to the home in the afternoon and spoke to News4Jax, disputing that he told arresting officers he and Miller are meth users.

"If I was on meth, I wouldn’t be passed out like I was falling asleep, falling on my computer," Wingate said.

A spokesperson with Wolfson Children’s Hospital told News4Jax Miller worked at the hospital before her arrest, but she has resigned.

Wingate told News4Jax he's taking his wife and kids to live with Miller's mother in Pensacola.

He denied that there were feces throughout the house. 

"Not inside the entire house. My daughter takes off her diaper," Wingate said.

Neighbor Corie Cerullo said she doesn't know the couple personally but has seen them around in the six years she has lived there.

"My sons are grown now but I just can’t even imagine it’s heartbreaking I hate that I live this close and never really even noticed," Cerullo said. "That just makes me so sad. It’s just like, there’s help. Why not just ask for help?"

According to the arrest report, Miller told officers she knows the living conditions are poor and that the kids are in danger when she lets Wingate, who she knows uses drugs, watch the kids.

News4Jax has asked the Department of Children and Families how the children are doing and are awaiting a reply.

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