by Sam Levin
Update below: If the accusations against Cheryl Dudley are true, the 37-year-old St. Peters mother may be one of the worst parents we've written about in a while (though there is certainly a lot of competition).
Police say that Dudley, among many other shocking allegations, left a loaded rifle in her toddler's crib and also left the home in very unsanitary condition. The property, court documents say, was apparently covered in dog feces, dirt, cigarettes and mold, and the bathrooms looked like they had not been cleaned for months.
She also reportedly tied her 22-month-old daughter to the garage with a rope.
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The woman, who lives at the 1300 block of Cave Springs Estates Drive, is charged with seven counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one county of child abuse with bail set at $30,000 cash-only.
(Daily RFT put in a request for a probable cause statement with the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. In the meantime, a spokeswoman for the St. Peters Police Department verifies for us the accusations first reported today in the Post-Dispatch.)
Police say that they were first called to the home when a witness reported seeing the 22-month-old daughter tied the garage with rope.
During the subsequent investigation, they discovered many more troubling conditions in the home, including narcotics in a dresser drawer -- within reach of the toddler and a seven-year-old child, police say.
The refrigerator had a terrible stench of spoiled food, police say, and a "brown substance" was smeared all over the inside of the door. Soiled diapers were also found in the basement.
Then there was the loaded rifle in the baby's crib. The P-D says the woman told cops she put it there after hearing noises in her back yard, but she apparently forgot to remove it after she realized that no one was there.
Further, the toddler had bruises on her leg -- which Dudley confessed were "caused by disciplining" -- and also had several flea bites and dog scratches on her legs, arms and torso, officials say.
The P-D says that she has failed to appear on multiple drug offenses and allegedly admitted to cops that she was intentionally hiding from authorities because she knew she was wanted.
Update, 1:25 p.m. Daily RFT received a copy of the probable cause statement and felony complaint from the St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney's Office, outlining the charges.
In addition to some of the accusations we've already mentioned above, the probable cause statement notes that Dudley, when police arrived, "admitted to tying a rope around victim...waist and shoulder almost like a harness so that victim...would not run out into the street."
Dudley also told police that "she has no idea what the pills were..." that were in reach of the children, the statement says. She had apparently stolen the pills from her mother and brother in the hopes that they would help her sleep.
And the charges offer this statement about the loaded gun in the crib: "Dudley stated that she was too tired to properly secure the loaded rifle."
In the basement, the charges say, there were also pieces of plastic and cloth lying at the base of the hot water heater creating a potential fire hazard.
Here's the probable cause statement and full complaint.