Tahlequah Daily Press

August 1, 2013

Woman accused of neglecting children to game at casino

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A Tahlequah woman is accused of leaving two children at home and one in the car while she went to a local casino this month.

Melanie L. Legier-Rowe, 35, is charged with felony child neglect and a misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer.

Tahlequah Officer Pam Bell said she was called at 5 a.m. July 6 to investigate a possible child abduction. Bell said she arrived with several other officers and saw Legier running down a street, screaming out the name of her 9-year-old daughter.

A man who was at Legier’s residence told police Legier’s daughter was missing. Legier told police a man she knows took her daughter to “get back at” her, according to Bell.

Legier allegedly told police she left the house at about 3:30 a.m. and went to get fuel at a convenience store. Legier said she left her three children – ages 15, 13 and 9 – at the house, with the oldest expected to babysit the other two.

While she was getting fuel, she noticed an ex-boyfriend drive by and head in the direction of her home. Legier said she was worried the man was going to her house because of a previous incident between the two.

Legier said she drove back to her house and discovered her 9-year-old was missing from where she had been sleeping. Legier said she felt her ex had taken the girl, so they went to his motel room and confronted him. That confrontation turned physical, she told police. After the altercation, Legier returned home and called police, she claimed.

Legier told police she had been gone from the home about 30 minutes.

As police checked on Legier’s possible suspect, a man ran up to Legier and told her that he had the 9-year-old and she was OK. That man told police he arrived at Legier’s home around 2 a.m. and noticed the door wasn’t closed.

Legier didn’t come to the door when he knocked, so he went in to check on her. The man said he found the 9-year-old sleeping, and couldn’t get a response from anyone in the house, so he woke the girl and walked with her back to his residence. Police drove the man back to his residence and found the girl asleep and OK.

After more interviews, police discovered Legier had allegedly gone to the Keetoowah Casino that morning, along with the 15-year-old child, who stayed inside the car.

When confronted about her story, Legier allegedly confessed she left the two younger children at home while she went to the casino.

Bell said Legier’s house was in “disarray due to a lack of cleaning” and construction projects. Clothes were thrown throughout the house, and paths had been cleared for walking.

The Department of Human Services was contacted about the situation.

Court records show Legier has been charged in Cherokee County District Court several times this year, including permitting an unauthorized person to drive a vehicle, and failure or neglect to compel child to attend school. A warrant has been issued for her arrest.

Child neglect is punishable by up to life in prison and a fine of $500-$5,000; and obstructing an officer is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $500.