Fort Wayne woman arrested in Evansville for neglect

EVANSVILLE – A woman who already faced charges for another crime in Evansville after police say she was found with an underage boy was arrested again Friday after her 4-year-old daughter was found unconscious in an East Side apartment.

Evansville police released details of the woman's arrest and the four-year-old's condition Friday evening. Sergeant Taylor Merriss, a police spokeswoman, identified the mother as 23-year-old Destiny F. Rhoades.

The identity of Rhoades' four-year-old child was not publicly known as of Friday, but authorities said the child's condition was serious.

“At this time, she is still alive but has very minimal brain activity,” Merriss wrote in a press release issued shortly before 5 p.m.

The EPD said Rhoades' arrest came after officers were dispatched to the 4500 block of Spring Valley Road around 9 a.m. Friday for a “medical emergency.” Rhoades' roommate allegedly called 911 to report that Rhoades' 4-year-old daughter was unresponsive and “beyond help,” according to Merriss.

“The Evansville Fire Department began performing CPR on the child,” the EPD press release states. “Rhoades' 16-year-old boyfriend was found in the apartment along with three other adult females who also live there. All four adult residents were transported to EPD headquarters and interviewed by detectives. The 16-year-old was not interviewed due to his age.”

The EPD said officers arrested Rhoades, who was reportedly at work when police were first contacted, and charged with neglect of a dependent person resulting in serious bodily injury (a Level 3 felony), enticement of a minor to commit crimes and invasion of privacy (both misdemeanors).

Merriss wrote that the “minor male,” described as Rhoades' “boyfriend,” was arrested and booked into the youth center. He is charged with assault causing serious injury, a Level 5 felony, and making false statements, both minor misdemeanors.

According to EPD, Rhoades had already come to the attention of Evansville law enforcement months earlier, in February, when officers encountered the then 15-year-old boy, who had been reported missing in Fort Wayne, in the company of Rhoades.

“Because a missing person case was a status offense, officers placed him in the Hillcrest Youth Home,” the EPD press release states. “Shortly thereafter, he fled the building. Officers found him again, this time accompanied by Rhoades in her apartment. He was placed in the Youth Care Center (YCC) and eventually returned to Fort Wayne.”

Rhoades was subsequently arrested and charged with enticement of a minor to commit criminal offenses, a Level 4 felony. She later returned to Fort Wayne to await her April 11 court date in Evansville, police said.

“Her [now-16-year-old] Her boyfriend disappeared again around the time she returned to Evansville for court,” Merriss wrote in the EPD press release.

Rhoades and the teen reportedly spoke to investigators about the four-year-old's condition. Rhoades said she left for work around 7 a.m. Friday. According to investigators, Rhoades claimed her daughter was asleep when she left her East Side apartment.

A roommate reportedly told police she noticed that “the child had bruises on her body,” Merriss wrote. “She also had a human bite mark on her forearm.”

A witness reportedly told investigators that the 16-year-old admitted to “biting the child,” Merriss wrote.

“This is a very disturbing case that could result in the death of a four-year-old and additional felony charges,” the EPD press release said. “Should the arrest grounds change and the juvenile male be tried in adult court, his name will be released at that time.”

Houston Harwood can be contacted at [email protected].