SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Two South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) employees are accused of abandoning a child at a Spartanburg County gas station.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) charged 42-year-old Michelle Lorraine Holmes with unlawfully placing a child at risk and 26-year-old Marcus Antonio Hutchins with criminal conspiracy.
Holmes and Hutchins were both working as DSS case managers.
According to SLED, Holmes and Hutchins were taking a child to the Spartanburg County DSS office on March 6, 2023, when they stopped at a gas station on Fairforest Road.
“Our uniform patrol got dispatched to a juvenile with a language barrier in a restroom at a convenience store,” said Lieutenant Kevin Bobo.
Investigators said Hutchins took the child inside to use the restroom then returned to the vehicle where Holmes was waiting.
SLED said the two then left while the child was still inside the restroom.
When the child left the restroom and could not find the two DSS workers, he waited at the store while an employee called 911.
“The juvenile let us know that he was in a car with two DSS case workers, they had stopped for him to go to the bathroom. When he got out of the bathroom, they were gone,” Bobo said.
Bobo said the teenager spoke Spanish.
Deputies investigated the video from the store that proved the juvenile was telling the truth.
“The two DSS workers had led their supervisor to believe that the juvenile had run out of the car or ran away from them. The video didn’t support their account,” said Bobo.
“They more or less abandoned him at that store, that’s what the video showed.”
Holmes is charged with unlawfully placing a child at risk and Hutchins is charged with criminal conspiracy.
“I can’t explain why the workers did what they did,” said Bobo. “You would think, common sense, that if a juvenile had run from you, you would call 911 and report it as soon as it happened, not drive from Fairforest Road all the way Chesnee Highway.”
Warrants stated when they arrived at the Spartanburg County DSS office, Holmes and Hutchins told a supervisor that the child had walked off from them at the gas station.
Investigators said the child, who was a foreign national with no known family in South Carolina and spoke only limited English, had been placed into the custody of DSS by the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
Both Holmes and Hutchins are no longer employed by DSS. The child involved was a teenager, according to DSS officials.
Holmes and Hutchins were both booked into the Spartanburg County Detention Center. They are now out on bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.