An Atlanta mother was arrested Wednesday, Dec. 4 after police said she abandoned her special needs son at a hospital last week.
Diana Elliott, 37, was taken into custody at a DeKalb County hotel where she had been staying with three other children. She has been charged with cruelty to children in the first degree, and all four minors are now being cared for by Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services.
“It’s rare that you see somebody older than a newborn being abandoned–it’s very rare,” said Atlanta police representative Carlos Campos.
Surveillance video showed a woman escorting the 14-year-old into Grady Memorial Hospital on the night of Dec. 4, and then leaving alone in a red minivan. The teenager was later found outside–cold, confused and unable to say who he was.
“It was fortunate there was a nurse at Grady hospital, who was on her break, who went outside, and happened to notice this young man outside, and it wasn’t right, and that he needed help and shouldn’t have been left like that,” said police Lt. Jeff Baxter.
Elliott told police she was overwhelmed caring for her 14-year-old son in addition to the other three juveniles.
The mother was taken to the Fulton County jail.
Atlanta police had pleaded for information from the public to help identify the boy, whom they described as nonverbal, with diminished mental capacity and unable to answer questions.
Tips eventually led them to Elliott on Wednesday.
“Our message is that we definitely understand that parents can feel overwhelmed by special needs children—that’s something that everyone can empathize with,” said Campos. “But leaving them unattended is not the proper solution. The child was found outside, cold and hungry, and that’s just not an appropriate way to deal with something like this.”