NC woman accused of locking 10-year-old out in cold for hours while she went to Christmas party

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Susan Dowless, 43.

CARY, N.C. — A North Carolina woman is accused of locking her 10-year-old son outside in near-freezing temperatures while she went to a Christmas party, according to the News & Observer.

Susan Dowless, 43, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with child abuse after police say she locked the boy “outside of the residence when the temperature was below 40 degrees for several hours” on Christmas Day.

Police say Dowless failed to give him adequate clothing, nourishment, and supervision while she and other relatives went to the party for about four hours.

Temperatures hovered around 38 degrees, but officers said the boy suffered no ill effects from the exposure.

While investigators say she deliberately locked her son out of the home, Dowless’ 21-year-old son Gilmore Smith said the incident was a misunderstanding and his mother never intentionally locked the boy out of the home.

Smith said the 10-year-old had gone to play with friends and was told to return home by a certain time. When he did not, the family assumed he stayed at his friend’s home.

“We waited for him for a good hour and then we went on. We weren’t trying to abandon him or anything,” Smith told WRAL. “We thought he was going to be with his friends like he normally was. Every time he comes home from school, he goes to his friend’s house. He plays until it’s dark, then he comes home.”

Dowless has since been released from the Wake County Jail where she was under a $5,000 bond.

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