- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2003

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A 2-year-old girl survived on ketchup, mustard and dried pasta for nearly three weeks after she was left home alone while her mother served time in jail.

The child was recovering from malnutrition yesterday and was listed in good condition at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“She’s sitting up in the bed and laughing and playing with the nurses,” said hospital spokesman David Foreman.

The child’s father, Ogden Lee, who is separated from her 22-year-old mother, Dakeysha Telita Lee, said he had been trying to contact the mother for two weeks and did not learn until Sunday that she was in jail.

When a manager let Mr. Lee into the apartment Monday, he found his daughter lying in a baby’s bathtub, covered with a towel and watching cartoons. She was filthy and covered with dried ketchup, he said.

“She grabbed me and wouldn’t let go of me,” Mr. Lee said. “It is really a miracle how good a shape my daughter is in. I don’t know how she did it.”

Mr. Lee, 33, said the girl had dragged the food, toys and other items into her mother’s bedroom, where he found her.

Leaford James, who lives across a breezeway from Mrs. Lee’s apartment, said he had heard crying from the apartment “but nothing to get suspicious about.”

The girl had been left alone since her mother was jailed Sept. 10 for aggravated assault and petty theft. The mother was charged Monday with child abuse, and was being held yesterday on a $20,000 bail.

The Department of Children & Families was reviewing the case to determine where the child should be placed.

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