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police & fire

12-year-old left home alone, mom in court today

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A 12-year-old North Jersey girl came home from school earlier this month to find $10, “plenty of food and drinks” to take care of herself and her dogs, and a note from her single mom saying a friend would be checking on her the next several days — while the woman was out in Washington State getting married. Today, her mother is due in court to answer endangerment charges for leaving the girl alone for six days.


Sarah Haines, 31, of Mt. Olive in Morris County, stocked up before she hopped a cross-country flight, authorities said.

An affidavit filed by investigators says Haines told her daughter she’d be back by June 6, then called to say she had to take a bus because her return flight was canceled.

Although a friend checked on her a few times, the youngster “cared for herself and the family dogs while left alone,” the affidavit ssays. She didn’t shower — “because she was scared since the front door unlocks itself,” it says.

Last Wednesday, June 9, the girl missed school. An unidentified person notified DYFS — who immediately called local police. They said they found the youngster alone in a urine-stenched, messy apartment.

When they finally got hold of Haines, she “could not provide a reasonable explanation” for leaving the girl alone and “admitted making a ‘mistake’ and that she had been ‘selfish,’” the affidavit said.

They arrested her.

A judge reduced her bail to $10,000 from $100,000 today after he lawyer blamed the entire episode on the friend not checking up enough on the girl. However, the judge ordered her passport revoked and said Haines still cannnot contact her daughter. Confidentiality laws prevent authorities from saying with whom DYFS placed the girl.

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