- Ellen Eldridge The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Instead of walking by a Gwinnett County motel room last week, a woman stopped. Something told Venisha Dawson to go back after seeing a 2-year-old peeking out the door, Channel 2 Action News reported.
The room smelled like urine and feces, according to a police report.
"I just couldn't leave them like that," Dawson told the news station Monday.
Five children had been left alone Wednesday in what she called deplorable conditions at a Lawrenceville extended stay motel on Buford Drive.
Police body camera footage shows the scene as officers walked into the room. Children ages 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 were inside without parents or adults.
"It was a bad situation for the children to be in," Lawrenceville police Capt.Greg Vaughn said. "There was only one clean diaper in the room at the time."
Dawson said the kids were hungry and asking for their parents. Their dad was in the Clayton County jail, one of the children told police.
"There was empty food boxes, dirty diapers laying around everywhere,” Dawson told Channel 2. “You could touch the baby’s diaper and urine would just flow straight out of the side of it.”
Dawson said her clothes still reek from the stench in room 233. When she found the children, Dawson called the police and gave the older kids some food from McDonald's.
A boy ate a sausage biscuit like it was his first meal in weeks, Dawson said, and police wrote in the report that was the only food in the place.
After a couple of hours, police said the mother, Sadergia Elliot returned with another 5-year-old and a bag of groceries from a nearby Walmart. She was charged with child cruelty.
The children were taken into state custody.
Dawson said she's glad she didn't just walk on by.
"Once I took them, I cried like a newborn baby cause it was like they were taking my own," she said.
Know what’s really going on with crime and public safety in your metro Atlanta community, including breaking news, trial coverage, trends and the latest on unsolved cases. Sign up for the AJC’s crime and safety newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox.