Florida Woman Arrested in Death of 2-Year-Old Left in Hot Car for Hours: Police

Tiffany Meier
By Tiffany Meier
April 12, 2019US News
Florida Woman Arrested in Death of 2-Year-Old Left in Hot Car for Hours: Police
Jessica Monell's mugshot. (Escambia County Jail)

A Florida woman has been arrested after her 2-year-old was found dead in a hot car parked outside, police said.

Jessica Monell, 36, is facing charges of homicide-neglect manslaughter, child neglect, and three counts of possession of a controlled substance, reported the Pensacola News Journal.

Escambia County Sheriff’s Major Andrew Hobbs said Monell arrived home at around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10, and went inside, leaving her 2-year-old daughter Joy Monell in the car.

“She got home and went inside to sleep. She forgot her kid was left in the car,” Hobbs said, according to the Pensacola News Journal. “The poor child had to sit in the car for over eight hours in the heat.”

Monell didn’t wake up until around 4 p.m. By then, the little girl was already dead, Hobbs said.

When police arrived, they reportedly found Monell hysterically sobbing on her living room floor.

Investigators found bags of suspected crystal meth, Xanax, and 20 grams of marijuana in Monell’s apartment, according to WESH.

Assistant State Attorney John Molchan spoke about the dangers of a child being left in a hot car.

“It’s not 100 degrees out here. But if it’s even close to 80, it’s still dangerous. Think about your car and your own experience. It doesn’t take long for temperatures to rise,” he said, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded a heat index of 82 degrees in Pensacola on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

Sherry Ross, a neighbor, told WEAR she couldn’t imagine how Monell must feel, reported WESH.

“It’s very, very tragic. I had a hard time when I heard about it. That poor baby isn’t going to go to school or go to her prom or get married. She’s gone,” Ross said. “Whether it was negligence or just overwhelmed or drug-related. That mom’s going to have to live her life knowing, ‘My baby’s not going to grow up.'”

Monell was booked into the Escambia County Jail without bond.

A lawyer wasn’t listed for Monell.

SAD UPDATE: The temperature in a hot car that a Florida toddler died in yesterday may have reached 130 degrees. The little girl's mother has been arrested. NEW INFO > wfla.com/1920604720

Posted by WFLA News Channel 8 on Friday, April 12, 2019

Children in Hot Cars

On average per year, according to advocacy website Kids and Cars, “Thirty-seven children die from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles. Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car; and the end result can be injury or even death.”

In 2016, 39 children across the United States died because they were left inside a hot car, according to the website No Heat Stroke. In 2017, 5 children died.

In a 19-year-period, when about 700 children died of heatstroke inside cars, 54 percent of caretakers said they “forgot” that the child was there.

“It doesn’t have to be a blazing hot day for these to happen,” according to Jan Null, a San Jose State professor and former meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Null told the San Jose Mercury News. “They can happen anywhere, and happen to anyone.”

Null told SFGate that the temperatures inside vehicles heat up rapidly, with the air rising about 19 degrees over whatever the outside temperature is in the first 10 minutes and rising another 10 degrees in the next 10 minutes.

Additionally, Null said the bodies of small children heat up three to five times faster compared to adults. “So, while you and I could be in a car that’s, say, 109 degrees, an infant or small child would be to the point of entering heat stroke,” he said.

NTD reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this article. 

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