North Carolina woman charged with abandoning her baby at NY subway station

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comJuly 8, 2014 

Frankea Aleasha Dabbs was supposed to appear in a Wake County courtroom last week, the latest in a long line of court appearances related to prostitution and other charges in the state. She never showed up.

Instead, authorities say, Dabbs, 20, went to New York City, where she abandoned her infant daughter, Mylanea Love Edmonds, in a Manhattan subway station Monday.

Now, mug shots and security camera images of a troubled young woman who has struggled in obscurity in North Carolina are seen widely on TV and the Internet. The New York tabloids and The New York Times covered the story, which appeared in newspapers as far away as Singapore. Dabbs was arrested Tuesday in New York.

Dabbs’ aunt, Lawanna T. Edmonds of Roanoke Rapids, has seen the story that has gone worldwide and is incensed that people think her niece is a bad mother or worse, instead of someone obviously in the throes of a nervous breakdown.

“People have no right to judge other people,” Edmonds said. “You don’t know why people snap.”

Dabbs and her daughter moved in with Edmonds in February and lived with her until July 1, the day Dabbs was scheduled to appear in the Wake courtroom. Edmonds said she went into the hospital for surgery that day and when she returned home, her niece had moved out.

“I believe if I had been here, she would have never left,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds says her niece told her she witnessed the murder of Mylanea’s father when she was two months pregnant. Edmonds said her niece told her three armed men wearing masks broke into the home she and the father shared and shot him to death while she hid under a bed. Edmonds did not know the name of Mylanea’s father or where her niece was living when the shooting occurred.

Capt. Eric Pope, a Sampson County sheriff’s spokesman, confirmed Tuesday that Dabbs was in a home outside Clinton on Nov. 6, 2012, when three people there were shot. One of the victims who lived at the house, Donald Jerome “DJ” Harvey, 30, died. Harvey was buried in his hometown of New York City, according to his obituary.

No arrests have been made in the case, Pope said.

Edmonds thinks witnessing the violent death of Mylanea’s father took a toll on Dabbs. She removed the makeup and false fingernails she wore, along with fake eyelashes and long wigs, and took to reading the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Edmonds said her niece asked her to stop speaking to her and instead write or text message whatever she wanted to say.

“She entered into darkness,” Edmonds said. “She always wore dark shades. No TV. No light in her room, with the windows covered. Cooking in the kitchen with no lights. I asked her about getting counseling and she told me, ‘I’m OK, I’m OK, I’m OK.’ 

Baby left at station

New York City police said Dabbs pushed the baby’s stroller from a subway car onto a platform at the Columbus Circle station Monday and then got back on the train.

She was arrested Tuesday after telling New York detectives she was homeless and felt she could no longer take care of her daughter, a police department spokesman told The Associated Press.

“She felt she couldn’t take care of the baby and thought she was leaving her in a safe public space,” Stephen Davis said.

A passenger had seen the woman and child board the train at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue, police said. The passenger got off at Columbus Circle and noticed the unattended stroller on the platform and the mother inside the train. After the train pulled away, the passenger remained with the baby for about 20 minutes. When the mother did not return, she notified a subway worker who called police.

Mylanea, who has been reported to be about 10 months old, was examined at a hospital, and doctors found no apparent signs of trauma, police said. She was placed in the care of the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.

Authorities found Dabbs just after midnight Tuesday near Central Park after someone recognized her from photos and video released by police showing a woman pushing the child through a subway turnstile gate.

They charged Dabbs with child abandonment and acting in a manner injurious to a child.

Charged with prostitution

Dabbs’ criminal history in North Carolina portrays a troubled, nomadic young woman who had been charged with prostitution and related offenses in the Triangle, Northampton and New Hanover counties and in Richland County, S.C., according to court records.

Dabbs failed to show up in a Northampton County courtroom on June 30 to answer to an assault and battery charge. A day later, she was supposed to be in Wake County District Court on another charge of failing to appear in court on a charge of misdemeanor attempted crime against nature.

Prostitution charges first started appearing on Dabbs’ criminal record in 2010 when she was charged in Durham with misdemeanor soliciting for prostitution. That charge was dismissed, a spokeswoman with the Durham County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

In February 2011, she was cited on prostitution charges in Mecklenburg and New Hanover counties. State records show that the Mecklenburg charges were dismissed, while the New Hanover County citation is still pending.

Her criminal record indicates that Dabbs lived in Garysburg, near Roanoke Rapids, and in Raleigh at times over the last few years. Dabbs was evicted from a Raleigh apartment in 2012, state records show.

Dabbs also has a pending charge in Richland County, S.C., of felony assault on a police officer, state records show.

Edmonds said her niece had done a lot of bad things away from her family and thinks she had difficulties coming to grips with what she has done.

“I don’t understand, because she had all the love and care in the world from us,” Edmonds said. “I believe her mind snapped and she thought, ‘I can’t handle this anymore. Maybe someone else deserves Mylanea more than me.’ 

Researcher Peggy Neal contributed to this report.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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