Woman accused of leaving 'crying, emotional' boy at Chuck E. Cheese hours after party

Woman accused of leaving ‘crying, emotional’ boy at Chuck E. Cheese hours after party

(As originally published, Mon, March 11th 2024 at 7:56 PM)

WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. (TND) — This case started when the folks at Chuck E. Cheese called police to say they found a boy who’d been left behind, apparently after a birthday party.

West Melbourne police in Florida arrived at the children’s entertainment center before 8 p.m. last Saturday evening, March 2.

They wrote in a heavily redacted arrest report, “The juvenile appeared developmentally behind and was unable to tell the staff his name or [blacked out] name.

“Staff walked him around the business, trying to find [blacked out], but were unsuccessful.”

Several units arrived and officers “canvased the parking lot and surrounding business in an attempt to locate possible [blacked out]; they were met with negative results.”

They also reported checking with surrounding law enforcement agencies and learned there were no reports of “a missing child matching his description.”

They said surveillance video showed the victim “entering Chuck E. Cheese with a large group of children and adults,” more than two hours earlier, at about 5:30.

“They appeared to be there for a birthday party.”

They said his guardian, later identified as Sheteria Denise Steadman, “paid for the party and the group proceeded with the birthday party.

“The group of individuals, to include Steadman, exited Chuck E. Cheese at approximately 7:05 p.m., got into a black SUV, and left.

“The juvenile victim was left behind and nobody reentered to retrieve the child.

“The child was crying, emotional, and appeared lost when the staff located him.”

Police called the state Department of Children and Families “for an emergency response” but while waiting, “An employee of Chuck E. Cheese posted a picture of the child on Facebook, seeking assistance in identifying the victim.”

That helped solve the case.

“An individual recognized the victim from the Facebook post as one of the children at the daycare she works at,” police wrote.

“She responded to Chuck E. Cheese to assist, and provided what information she knew,” which led to identifying Steadman as the victim’s guardian.

Police said they made “several attempts” to reach Steadman and eventually asked Palm Bay police to go to her home, but while they were en route, “Steadman called back one of the individuals who attempted to call her.

“She responded to the scene,” and police said she told them, “They went to a birthday party there, and left with nine children and two adults in a Ford Explorer.

“She thought one of [blacked out] got him in the car and assumed he went right to sleep when [blacked out].

Woman accused of leaving 'crying, emotional' boy at Chuck E. Cheese hours after party
Sheteria Denise Steadman was charged with child neglect without great bodily harm, which is a 3rd-degree felony, March 4, 2024. (Brevard Co. Sheriff’s Office)

“They never noticed the victim was not in the vehicle or at [blacked out] until they received a phone call.”

Police noted, “She left Chuck E. Cheese at approximately 7:05 p.m. and did not come back to Chuck E. Cheese until approximately 11:07 p.m., after she was contacted.”

Stedman, 36, was arrested two days later.

She was charged with child neglect without great bodily harm, which is a third-degree felony.

Her bond was set at $2,500 and she was released after 13 hours in jail.

“DCF removed the victim” police said, “and placed them in a different home due to the circumstances.”

Authorities did not release any details about the boy, including his age.

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