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Mom accused of leaving 10-year-old son out in the cold for hours while she attended Christmas dinner

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A North Carolina mother was accused of locking her young son out of their home on Christmas day while she attended a dinner with her other children.

Susan Dowless, 43, was arrested on Wednesday after police said she intentionally left her 10-year-old son outside their Cary home for about five hours.

Authorities said Dowless took her other three sons out to a Christmas dinner, the News & Observer reports.

The police were called after a neighbor saw the child wandering around alone.

Investigators said temperatures on Christmas were below 40 degrees and the child did not have adequate clothing or proper nourishment or supervision.

The child is said to be healthy and in the care of a relative. Dowless’ oldest son, 21-year-old Gilmore Smith, told WRAL that the incident was a big misunderstanding and his mother did not intentionally lock the 10-year-old out in the cold.  According to Smith, the child had been at a friend’s house and was told to come home by a certain time.

When the boy failed to return on time, Dowless assumed the child was staying over at the friend’s house.

“We waited for him for a good hour and then we went on,” Smith said. “We weren’t trying to abandon him or anything.”

“We thought he was going to be with his friends, like he normally was. Every time he comes home from school, he goes to his friend’s house. He plays until it’s dark, then he comes home.”

Dowless was charged with one count of misdemeanor child abuse. She was released from jail on Wednesday after posting her $5,000 bond.  Dowless has been ordered to have no contact with her son as the investigation continues.


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