Leland, MS-2 Children drown, 1 rescued after mother ran into store leaving children in SUV that rolled into creek
Leland, MS-The mother who left her three children in a vehicle that slid into a creek has been arrested and charged with negligent manslaughter.
Jenna Monique Payne, 25, was arrested around noon Monday and charged with two counts of negligent manslaughter and one count of child neglect.
Leland Assistant Chief of Police, Marcus Davis, said Payne told investigators that she left her three children-Steve Smith (4), Raelynn Johnson (2), and Rasheed Johnson Jr. (1)-asleep in the car while she went into a quick stop. The car was turned off, but the keys were left inside the vehicle.
The 4 year old was in a seatbelt in the front seat, while the other two children were in car seats in the back seat. Payne was in the store for approximately 5-10 minutes.
Davis said investigators believe the 4 year old put the keys in the ignition, turned the car on and put it in neutral which caused it to roll into the creek.
Payne did not have an answer when she was asked why she left the children inside the car.
Firefighters and bystanders rushed to save the children, jumping into the creek and trying to break the vehicle's windows. They managed to free Raelynn but couldn't save the two boys. The SUV was taken by the water river and found hours later with the bodies of the two boys inside.
Payne was charged for the children's deaths, Davis said, because "she ended up leaving three minors unattended for a length of time when she went into a store. That's illegal in itself. That was part of the negligence that led ultimately to their deaths."
When asked about Payne being charged with manslaughter on what could possibly have been an accident, Davis said, "The charge ain't the problem. It's losing the children that's the problem. That's the horrible thing."
Payne bonded out of jail Monday afternoon.