Mother accused of leaving children in Walmart for '24-hour challenge'
MASON COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) – A Mason County mother has been arrested after deputies found several drugs on her when she arrived at a store to pick up her daughter.
Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole says 39-year-old Xaviera Clarice Stockwell was in possession of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Deputies say Stockwell dropped two ten-year-olds off at Walmart in Pere Marquette Township around 2 a.m. Saturday to spend the night there as part of a “24-hour Challenge."
“The reporting party was an employee of Walmart who had seen two young girls in the store since about 2 a.m. kind of just wandering around the store,” said Sheriff Cole. “Eventually [the employee] went to confront them and they found them in a make-shift fort that had been inside a clothing rack.”
Inside the clothing rack were also pillows and things that someone would use to go camping.
“When approached, the girls took off running and that’s what prompted the 911 call,” Sheriff Cole said.
Investigators say one of the girls left a cell phone behind, which led deputies to one of the mother’s.
That’s when Stockwell arrived and told deputies she dropped the two 10-year-olds off to take part in the challenge, something that Sheriff Cole said could have put their lives in danger.
“They were found more than an hour later walking down a two-lane highway a mile and a half away from the scene, so there was all kinds of potential for bad things to happen,” explained Cole.
The challenge entails staying in a store for an entire day and night, “camping out” without getting caught. It's one of many games that has swept across social media.
“Kids are challenged to do things like eating tide pods, or the cinnamon challenge, and some of them can be innocent and others can be really dangerous,” said Katie Larsen, the children’s services supervisor with Centra Wellness Network. “We’re seeing an increase in kids experimenting in these things and taking some impulsive actions.”
Larsen works directly with parents and kids.
“We’re always encouraging families to allow open communication with their children, really talk about what they are hearing at school if they are invited to participate in things like that," Larsen said.
Larsen says this is a good reminder of the importance of parents and kids communicating, especially when it comes to social media.
“Social media can be a wonderful way for kids to connect, it isn’t all evil, but we need to monitor and be careful,” Larsen said. “We always encourage parents to monitor their online presence so to have parental controls in the background, but also do a lot of education on what’s a safe place to visit [online] and what isn’t.”
Right now, it’s unclear if the prosecutor will pursue child endangerment charges.