QPD News Release
On Monday, October 28, at 2:27 PM, Quincy police officer Harold Barber responded to a call at the “Precious Gems” Daycare located at 803 East Jefferson Street. Once on scene the officer made contact with a mother who was there to pick up her three-year-old daughter due to a call from the daycare owner earlier to come and pick the child up. The mother told the officer that the door to the daycare was locked and the lights were off, giving her the impression that no one was there.
The mother contacted members of her family and inquired if any of them had picked up her daughter prior to her arrival and she was told that none of them had picked up the child. After knocking loudly on the door of the business an audible alarm began to sound and soon thereafter the woman’s three-year-old daughter appeared at a window inside the dark business, alone and crying. The Quincy Fire Department Rescue Unit forced open a door to the business and Officer Barber retrieved the child who was obviously frightened but appeared unharmed.
The owner and employee of the facility could not be located on this date. The following day Quincy Police CID investigators did contact the owner, Willa T. Nelson of Quincy, and conducted a criminal interview with her at police headquarters. Nelson told investigators that on the date in question she had a doctor’s appointment and that she called the parents of the children at 1:25 PM and told them to pick their kids up by 2:00 PM. Nelson went on to say that she did not account for the three-year-old child before leaving the facility but did not do this intentionally.
When asked if something like this had ever happened before Nelson stated that there was an incident in 2005 but she couldn’t recall the details. Investigators later determined that in 2005 a child had been left unattended on the facility’s playground. That case was forwarded to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
On Wedneday, October 30, a criminal arrest warrant was issued for the arrest of Nelson for child neglect. Nelson did turn herself in to the Gadsden County Jail later that day and was booked and released on her own recognizance until her later court date.
Anyone having additional information on this case is asked to contact QPD Criminal Investigation Division Capt. Troy Gilyard at (850) 627-0140.
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