Lack of Harmony: Three-Year-Old Girl Left At Chuck E. Cheese . . . Parents Find Out Watching The 11 O’Clock News

As the father of four, I was struck yesterday with a story out of Harford County, Maryland where a 3-year-old girl named Harmony was left at a Chuck E. Cheese’s and the parents did not realize that their daughter was missing until watching the 11 p.m. news.

The parents are separated and Harmony went to the location with a group of 14 kids. She was handed over to the police and eventually Child Protective Services. The parents said that they thought the girl went home with relatives and the child was returned to them.

Of course, that means that someone left the child at Chuck E. Cheese. The absence of charges is probably appropriate but it does bring to mind the contrast with the case of Kevin Kelly the father of 13 children. Kelly was doing sole duty year ago when his youngest, a 19-month-old girl, was accidentally left in the family van. She later died. I was highly critical of the move to prosecute Kelly who was by all accounts a deeply loving parent who was destroyed by the loss of his daughter. In a large family, the older kids were tasked with watching the younger kids and Kelly thought that one of his older daughters had brought the baby in the house on the cold day. It was a terrible tragedy for this family — a tragedy then magnified by the long prosecution of the father who was the only source of income for the family.

To this day, Kelly runs an Annual Frances Kelly Blood Drive — ten years in running. The Tenth Annual blood drive will be held Sat May 26, 2012 7:30am – 2:30pm in All Saints School Gym (9294 Stonewall Rd Manassas VA 20110) (Red Cross Sponsor Code 05310193).

Source: CBS

33 thoughts on “Lack of Harmony: Three-Year-Old Girl Left At Chuck E. Cheese . . . Parents Find Out Watching The 11 O’Clock News

  1. Most have better security that this…. You are numbered when you go in….. I never tried to take more or pawn the children off on others so….. I never suspected you could leave one….. Hmmmm

  2. I am a bit shocked that either parent would not know that their 3year old child was not home. Went home with relatives? DCFS needs to check into ths one.

  3. I could see this happening if the parents thought she was with another relative but it is awfully sloppy to not be sure that everyone is on the same page. No booze at the rat house so they can’t blame that.

    It amazes me that you have to have a license to go fishing but anybody can have a baby.

  4. When you enter Chuck-E-Cheese both the child and the adult bringing them in receive a UV stamp on the wrist. In my experience the child is not allowed to leave with an adult who does not have a matching stamp and the parent(s) or adult who took the child should have known this unless it was their first time. Something smells funny here and it’s not the cheese….

  5. I’m not as sanguine as Professor Turley after reading the facts. The child was with a group of 14 including her estranged parents. Shortly after 8:00 p.m. the little girl went to restaurant personnel asking for something to drink. Apparently she had been there for some time. They called authorities who waited until 9:30 pm. The parents found out about it on the 11:00 pm news. Can anyone here imagine not wondering what happened to your three-year-old in the face of these facts? Don’t you at least call whomever you think has the child to tell your daughter “good night”?

    To reiterate frankly, just because you can have kids, doesn’t mean you should. Yeesh.

  6. rafflaw,

    I agree. Some investigation should be done. A parent has a responsibility to know the whereabouts of his/her child/children at all times. Which parent dropped off the child at Chuck E. Cheese’s? Didn’t that parent make arrangements with a particular relative to take the child home?

  7. i’m with mespo. not that it’s happened often, but when my kids are away from me for an extended period, i call to check on them. something’s amiss.

  8. Don’t you at least call whomever you think has the child to tell your daughter “good night”? -mespo


  9. While we don’t know who was in the group who went to CEC, perhaps grandparents, them not knowing where the child was for a period of hours is quite strange. Three year old children simply cannot be left unsupervised. The parents were certainly not thinking of the child for more hours than meet the standard of normal parental concern. This calls for a Child Welfare investigation on the face of the story. However, the facts are too slim to make the presumption of the parents neglect conclusive.

  10. When my daughter was that age, in the days before cell phones were common, some old family friends took her to Disneyland with the promise that they’d have her home by 6. By 7, we had called the Anaheim Police Department and every hospital within twenty miles of the park.

    So, yeah, it’s odd that they wouldn’t have noticed that their little girl wasn’t where she was supposed to be.

    (Our friends brought our daughter home at 11. They had been having such a good time they decided to stay until closing, and couldn’t find a phone.)

  11. I don’t know if it should be a law or not, but common sense would seem to dictate that if you can’t count, you shouldn’t be in the position of responsibility of a parent.

  12. As to the Kevin Kelly tradegy: “…the older kids were tasked with watching the younger kids…”

    This may seem reasonable, even necessary, but is really unfair “tasking” the older children as fulltime babysitters/surrogate parents. Everyone seems to fault the ChuckE.Cheese parents for leaving the little girl, later found unharmed and alive, but gives a pass to Mr. Kelly whose daughter died because he was the sole source of income for the family? Doesn’t being a “responsible parent” encompass the basic premise that one must not be a parent to more children than one can actually care for/keep track of as a parent?

  13. When my daughter was 3 we were visiting the outlaws in Philadelphia. My husbands sister an 18 year old freshman at Temple wanted to take her to the school and visit with friends. I was against the proposal and my husband was for it. An argument ensued that was of biblical proportions and I finally relented to Kelly being taken on the EL to a coffee shop fairly nearby and her friends were to meet her there. However before I would allow My Precious to be allowed on a train with anyone other than me I took an indelible marker and wrote local and NC addresses and phone numbers all over her body. I was accused of not trusting my husbands sister. I answered yes that’s right. (this untrustworthiness was proven time and again over many years but luckily for me she is now an ex-outlaw)

  14. The kid will need one of those devices (chipRus I think they are called) that allows the cops to track the person on a screen. Then the parents will need one on their person. That way the authorities can monitor kid and parents at the same time. If ever the twain dont meet at 9 then close in on both and make arrests. Then the kid can be put into foster care. But, with this kid, I would keep the chip on him until he is old enough to drive or perhaps 18.

  15. AN,

    This is an area outside Houston….. Not the best in the world for intellect…. Most generally the children grow up to be survivors….. Not a happy road to be on….

  16. AY,

    It’s very sad, isn’t it… Thanks for the information on the area. I worked with troubled kids for awhile — it still breaks my heart to think about some of them…

  17. AN,

    The legal system that they are subjected to is not much better that the home lives that many came from….. It makes you want to adopt each and everyone of them…. Unfortunately, it became big business for many states to rip these children out of the only family that they knew and place them in even more harmful environments….. All for the federal dollars to justify the takings…. And in some cases it was for the best….. In my opinion as a gal…. The case workers put their own criteria of what was in these children’s best interest….. The damn courts rubber stamped it all……

  18. “It makes you want to adopt each and everyone of them….”


    Yes… and I did think about it a few times. On my last night of working with these kids, one of the little guys, of whom I was very fond, grabbed my leg and wouldn’t let go. He was crying and kept saying, “Don’t leave me Nurse xxxx… Please don’t leave me…” And then I had to leave him.

  19. In this crazy world, “all one can do is just keep moving”… (I think that’s a Father Mulcahy line from an old Mash episode. Good night, AY.)

  20. Father Mulcahy: “It doesn’t matter whether you feel useful or not when you’re moving from one disaster to another. The trick, I guess, is to just keep moving.” (It was a great episode — you’d really have to hear it, in context, if you don’t remember that particular show…)

    Something from a TV show, so it’s a bit crazy…, but those words have carried me through many a bad time…

  21. AN,

    I seem to recall that….. William christopher was quite the calm in the storm….. Mash was my favorite show…. When my son was 3 or 4 he loved the opening credits…..

  22. And no slam to Robert Duvall, but Larry Linville’s Frank Burns was one of the funniest characters ever on television. The nearly perfect weasel. One of the few times a movie has been translated to a series and both the writing of the character and the portrayal both surpassed the source material.

Comments are closed.