Couple charged with neglect after leaving kids in car while gambling, Hialeah police say

Tyrell Johnson and Josephine Laidler left their two children — a baby in a diaper and a young child — inside a parked car at a Hialeah casino early Thursday, then went inside to gamble, police said.

The engine was running and the air conditioner was on.

An hour later, after a security guard at Hialeah Park Racing & Casino found the children and notified police, the Central Miami-Dade couple were taken into custody and charged with child neglect with no intention of harming their children. They were taken to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.

The children, 1 and 4 years old, were in good condition and handed over to the Florida Department of Children & Families.

“They both went inside to gamble for possibly over an hour,” said Hialeah police Lt. Carl Zogby.

The couple told police the children were sleeping when they left to go inside the casino, the arrest affidavit states. The couple’s 2008 four-door silver Pontiac was left unlocked.

Investigators were still trying to obtain video footage Thursday to determine exactly how long the kids were alone, and to learn what the parents were doing in the casino.

Thursday’s arrests were similar to a January incident at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino near Hollywood, when the father of a 3-month-old and an 18-month-old was arrested on similar charges after police said he left the children in his truck in a parking garage while he gambled.

Anthony Wells had left a DVD playing in the console and the windows cracked late in the afternoon, with the children strapped in their seats and no water or food within reach.