On 12/05/19 at approximately 2:45 a.m., officers responded to a Clermont residence about a found four-year-old child.
The complainant and her family were awakened by a child screaming for help at approximately 2:15 a.m. The Complainant had originally believed the screaming was coming from the television, however, after turning the television off, the screaming continued outside of the bedroom window. The complainant then had her husband go outside and make contact with the child victim who was standing in the yard. The complainant asked the child if he was cold due to the outside temperature being 47 degrees and was not wearing the proper clothing for cold weather, and was shivering. The child told the complainant that he remembered he was in the van with his family and then woke up and there was no one there.
The child could not confirm whether he woke up inside the van or if he was outside but he was cold and trying to get inside his house but the doors were locked. The complainant’s husband gave the child his jacket and knocked on the door repeatedly for a great time, but no one answered. He then called 911 to report a child found outside and law enforcement responded. Prior to the deputies’ contact, EMS was called to evaluate the child due to the complainant stating that she believed the child had been out of the house “for a few hours.”
Deputies arrived on scene and made contact with the child and the complainant’s husband outside of the residence. The outside temperature by this time was still 47 degrees, and the grass was wet possibly from sprinklers. The deputies, the child, and the complainant’s husband were reportedly “extremely cold” even though wearing jackets, and the child was obviously shivering even while wearing the husband’s jacket.
Deputies knocked on the door repeatedly with no answer. The knocking advanced to pounding in attempts to make contact with anyone inside. After a few minutes, the arrestee–Justin Morris–then answered the door. Mr. Morris then stated “what are you doing outside?” while speaking with the child. He did not seem concerned there were deputies in his front yard. The child was then taken inside to warm up while deputies made contact with Mr. Morris.
Mr. Morris stated they returned home between 11:00 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. on 12/4/19. He stated that he physically climbed into the back seat of the van and unbuckled the victim child and carried him out of the van and set him on the ground. Mr. Morris then told the other juveniles in the van to go inside and go directly to bed. He stated that he did not check on any of the juveniles and went to bed himself. He stated that he was responsible for getting all of the children inside into bed as early as possible for a long day the next day at the theme parks.
EMS arrived on the scene to evaluate the child and he was medically cleared. Contact was made with the biological mother, who stated after arriving at the residence, she went inside and went to the bathroom and when she was done, Mr. Morris was inside and already had her wheelchair charging. She asked if everyone was inside and asleep and he told her everyone was inside and the victim child was hard to convince to come inside. Mrs. Morris did not check on the juveniles after arriving home, due to believing Mr. Morris had put them all to bed.
Mr. Morris was not wearing a shirt, socks, or shoes, therefore he retrieved those three items to prepare to walk outside. Mr. Morris asked if he could take his medication which is prescribed to him, at which time he looked around the bedroom and could not find the medication. Mr. Morris began getting upset he could not find it and asked Mrs. Morris where the medication might be at. Mrs. Morris stated it was not her responsibility to keep up with his medication and he should be responsible enough to keep track of where his medication was located.
Mr. Morris was then taken into custody and transported to the Lake County Jail without incident for child neglect.