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Orange County mother facing neglect, manslaughter charges in connection to son’s death

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An Orange County woman is facing manslaughter and neglect charges in the death of her two-year-old son after the boy was found dead in a hotel room in April.

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Appalonia B. Lampkin, 32, was arrested Thursday after a weeks-long investigation that started with frantic calls to 9-1-1.

Detectives say A’riyan Johnson, 2, was diagnosed with a developmental condition that affected his trachea and was at high risk of breathing problems. They said Lampkin was told by doctors to never leave Johnson unattended.

However, deputies said Lampkin left Johnson and a 1-year-old girl unsupervised multiple times on April 18 for a total of more than two hours. They said the children were left alone in the hotel room while Lampkin drove a third child to a school bus stop, alone in the car while Lampkin interviewed virtually for a job, and alone in the hotel room again when she met with FEMA officials in a conference room down the hall.

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The detectives noted FEMA did not have any policies against children attending that meeting, nor did Lampkin tell the agents her children weren’t being supervised.

Johnson was found in his car seat inside the hotel room after the FEMA meeting ended, court records showed. Detectives said he was slumped down in his seat as if he had tried to slip out of it and appeared to have had his air flow cut off. They said only the shoulder straps had been buckled.

Lampkin told the investigators she never buckled the crotch straps because she didn’t know how, they hurt her hands, her acrylic fingernails were too long and she thought car seats were a scam.

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Detectives said upon follow-up, Lampkin took multiple car seat safety courses, and court documents also showed she was given a ticket by a deputy for failing to have her kids properly restrained in the car in November 2022.

Lampkin’s friends were shocked and dismayed by the news of her arrest. They said she had taken her son’s death especially hard and didn’t deserve to be charged.

“She was an amazing mother,” her friend, Diamond, wrote in a Facebook message. “She took care of three little children by herself.”

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Ciera McRae, who called herself Lampkin’s best friend, said Lampkin was honest about what had happened. McRae praised Lampkin’s parenting skills.

“She went never do anything to harm her kids. She loved her baby,” McRae said, through tears. “She did everything in her willpower, you know. Being a mother is hard, especially when you have no support.”

Lampkin’s other young children are with their biological father, McRae added.

A judge set Lampkin’s bond to more than $100,000. She also faces charges for aggravated battery resulting from a road rage incident last year.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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