Florida mom tried to sell 18-month-old for $500 before abandoning toddler: Cops


Jessica C. Woods (Putnam County Jail)

Jessica C. Woods (Putnam County Jail)

A 33-year-old mother in Florida has been arrested for allegedly trying to sell her 18-month-old daughter to a stranger for $500 and then abandoning the child when she was unable to secure a purchaser.

Jessica C. Woods was taken into custody last week and charged with a spate of felonies, including three counts of child abuse and one count each of child neglect, unlawful desertion of a child, and selling or surrendering a minor for money or property, authorities announced.

According to a news release from the Palatka Police Department, Woods on Tuesday, March 5 was observed loitering around a local business in Palatka with her toddler. Palatka is about 90 miles north of Orlando.

An employee of the local business said they had seen Woods and the toddler hanging around in the area for at least “a few days.” The employee told police that she only knew Woods because the woman “frequented the area.” The name of the business and the identity of the employee were not released by authorities.

The anonymous employee then decided to make contact with Woods and asked if she and the child were in need of assistance, police said.

“Woods told the citizen she did not need anything but, offered to sell the child to the citizen for $500.00,” the release states. “When the citizen refused to purchase the child, Woods walked away, leaving her daughter behind.”

Police said the employee picked up the toddler and “immediately” brought her to the Palatka Police Department Headquarters where she relayed what happened to officers.

Patrol officers and members of the department’s Victim Advocate Unit cared for the toddler until agents with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) arrived and took custody of the little girl. In the days that followed authorities said that DCF was able to place the toddler in foster care.

Detectives subsequently obtained an arrest warrant for Woods based on the aforementioned charges. Officers on March 7 located Woods, who was taken into custody at about 3 p.m. and booked into the Putnam County Jail, online jail records show.

Woods remained in detention on bond of $255,000 as of Thursday afternoon. Last week, a judge ordered that she is to have no contact with her daughter until permitted to do so by court order. It was not immediately clear when Woods was scheduled to appear in court again.

Woods in the last three years has ben charged with numerous crimes, including possession of narcotics, larceny, and trespassing, Pensacola ABC affiliate WEAR reported.

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