Mother Charged After Kids Found Alone in Car

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COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Witnesses say a student of the Akron Institute of Herzing University on Arlington Street became alarmed early Monday when she thought she heard a child crying from inside a vehicle in the parking lot.

The vehicle had sheets over its windows, and when a witness, who asked not to be identified, went to investigate he believed there were two children inside.

"I came out and looked in the vehicle, saw that there were some kids in the vehicle, the original report was that there was just one. I observed two and it ended up there were three and I called the sheriff’s department to have them come out and take control of the situation," he told Fox 8 News.

Deputies say when they finally got to the children inside they found one who is 18-months-old, another 3 and the oldest is 5.

"A 5-year-old is smart," said Inspector Bill Holland of the Summit County Sheriff's Office, adding, "if they wanted to get out of the car they could probably have found a way to get out of the car and a deputy was able to find a way to get into the car so if somebody with mal-intentions wanted to get into the car they could have done that as well."

If the children got out of the car they could have easily wandered onto a very busy and dangerous Arlington Street near the intersection of the equally as busy Waterloo Road.

Holland says the oldest of the children could not even tell them her mother's last name.

Living next to where the car was parked, Ernie Seeley said the children's cries alerted his dog that something was wrong.

Seeley says the children were crying "on and off and on and off for ever and ever for an inordinately long time."

After about an hour of trying to identify their mother, deputies say Marie Berger, 25, came out of the building and was arrested on three counts of misdemeanor child endangering.

Other students say she seemed panicked when she ran out of the building, realizing the deputies were there.

"If she would have came into the building anybody would have helped her watch the kids, I would have helped her watch the kids while she took her final," said Aja Barthany-Daniels who said she sympathizes with both the kids and their mother.

"This deputy used good discretion at this point, you know an hour is a long time for three children, especially one at 18-months-old," said Holland.

There was nobody at Berger's Pondview Avenue address Tuesday afternoon.

"To leave them in the car was not her only option I mean somebody would have watched her kids in the building," added Barthany-Daniels.

Berger was being held in the Summit County Jail on Tuesday.

The Children were not harmed, and were turned over to the Summit County Children Services.