JACKSON, Mich. — A Hillsdale County father accused of leaving two hungry children in a vehicle during a two-day drinking and partying binge was charged Monday with second-degree child abuse.
Jackson County sheriff’s deputies arrested the children’s 28-year-old father, Richard Labo, and 27-year-old uncle about 12:30 a.m. Sunday inside of a bowling alley in Summit Township. Deputies said the men were intoxicated when they were arrested.
Only Labo was formally charged Monday. Prosecutors said the children’s uncle had a moral obligation to protect them, but not a legal one. A judge set bail for Labo at $20,000.
A 911 caller reported children abandoned in a vehicle at the Summit Lanes Bowling Alley.
“There is a Pontiac Grand Prix. It’s right outside of Gypsies. … with two toddlers inside the back seat while their mom was inside at the bar,” the caller told a 911 dispatcher.
“They looked about 3 and 4. They’re really young. I think one might have been sleeping. The other one started to open the door when I came out,” she added.
When deputies arrived, they found the 4- and 6-year-old children locked inside a vehicle in the parking lot. The children told deputies they had not eaten in two days while their father and uncle drove around drinking and partying.
Police said the children were living in “unsanitary conditions” and that there were open beer bottles inside the vehicle. Piros said the father picked the children up Thursday for his regularly scheduled weekend visit.
“This was actually part of his visitation. He actually had the children for the weekend,” said Piros.
A Department of Human Services investigation is ongoing. Jackson County Lt. Brad Piros said the children have been returned to their mother.
“They should have been home in their warm little jammies and bed, instead of driving around with their dad who was doing God only knows what with my grandchildren in the back seat,” said the children’s grandmother, Tanya Walling. “I don’t believe he should ever be allowed to see his children unsupervised ever again.”
Labo has two alcohol related driving offenses and a series of misdemeanors on his record.
“Almost every attorney on our staff and support staff are parents and or grandparents and you don’t like to see this kind of behavior and we take a dim view of it when we see it,” said Jackson County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mark Blumer.
Labo is due back in court in a few weeks.