SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - A 7-month-old Altamonte Springs girl will remain in state custody after a judge found probable cause for child neglect on Tuesday during a hearing.
Penelope Hogarth and her mother, Jessica McCreery, returned to Florida over the weekend, following a massive search. McCreery and Penelope were found at a friend's house out of state.
McCreery said she fled out of fear that Child Protective Services would take Penelope from her.
"I over-reacted. I now know my baby is malnourished and needs more nutrition," she said. "I was very nervous, apprehensive and automatically on the defensive. I did over-react. I just love Penelope."
Photos: Jessica McCreery, Penelope
Raw: Hogarth bonds out
Altamonte Springs police said they became concerned last week when officials went to the home to check on reports that Penelope was undernourished. Police said McCreery, 21, and Penelope weren't there.
The child's 46-year-old father, David Hogarth, was arrested after a pot-growing operation was found at the house. His comments caused police to
become concerned about the safety of McCreery and the child.
According to officials, the parents didn't contest the state's custody petition.
McCreery's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, said Penelope was found to be undernourished but had no other medical concerns.
"Do you realize the time that you wasted, the money that you wasted and the scare you gave everybody when you didn't tell people where your daughter was?" asked a reporter.
"I understand, and I certainly know Jessica, very, very well. You know we all hear a lot of stories, and I know Jessica, I know Jessica was probably very, very scared," said Hogarth.
In addition to ordering Penelope to remain in state custody, the judge ordered her parents to get random drug tests.
After the hearing, the parents spoke about the judge's decision.
"Anything that I can do, the court requirements to continue to love, honor and protect my child, as well as Jessica, I will most certainly do," Hogarth said.
"Her eyes are so bright and beautiful and her smile is just amazing, and she is a tiny baby, and I just thought she was lovely. She never seemed sickly to me at any time," said McCreery.
"Jessica and I are very serious about raising her holistically, only organic foods and whatnot. So perhaps now, obviously, that we are here, I am glad she is receiving medical attention," Hogarth said.
McCreery was asked about her hopes for Penelope.
"I would do everything that it takes to get her back with me. I just want her happy, healthy and back with mom and dad," she said. "I miss nursing her and making her smile and holding her all night, and it's hard for me, but I am doing the best that I can."
McCreery and Hogarth have visitation rights until they complete a case plan aimed at protecting their daughter.
The couple will have an arraignment on June 9.
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