The operator of the Little Giggles day care center in Bend, Ore., had a rule: Parents couldn't drop off or collect their children between 11am and 2pm. That was the period January Neatherlin referred to as "nap time"—and when she headed out to go tanning and to CrossFit. The 32-year-old was on Friday sentenced to just north of 21 years in prison after pleading guilty to 11 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and one count of third-degree assault. Per court documents, Neatherlin would give the children in her care the sleep aid melatonin and then take off. Her misdeeds didn't end there: the daycare was an illegal one, and she was not a registered nurse, though she told parents otherwise. The Oregonian reports the scheme unraveled after an ex-boyfriend and ex-roommate tipped off police, who began tracking Neatherlin a year ago.
They observed her exiting the house on two occasions, leaving alone seven kids, ages 6 months to 4 years, reports the Bend Bulletin. Bend Police Sgt. Devin Lewis testified that "what we saw was shocking." For example, one of the kids left unattended was found covered in damp vomit, and KTVZ reports Lewis feared the child could have possibly suffocated without intervention. Using CrossFit and Tan Republic records, police verified Neatherlin visited those establishments during "nap time" hours. Four of the charges relate to prior incidents, in which Neatherlin was said to have burned a baby with scalding milk; on another occasion, an 11-month-old was taken to a hospital with head injuries. Said the sentencing judge: "It is sheer serendipity and chance that some of those kids were not killed." (This day care is also in the news over alleged melatonin use.)