By Cara L. Dempski
GLENWOOD CITY — A Marathon County woman who left her two-month-old child in the care of a stranger at a farm near Glenwood City on September 2 is scheduled to appear in St. Croix County Circuit Court October 13 for misdemeanor child neglect.
Lieutenant Cathy Borgschatz of the St. Croix County sheriff’s office said Melody Copeland, age 22 of Stratford, received a notice to appear in court when she was released on $250 bail in the early morning hours of September 3.
Police took Copeland into custody after she left her infant in the care of a farm worker in the town of Springfield. According to St. Croix County Captain Jeff Klatt, Copeland intended to leave the child in the care of the man she alleges is its father.
“There was a text message exchange between her (Copeland) and the man she said is the father,” Klatt said. “She asked him to look after the baby, and he replied he was busy and would not be able to do so.”
The Sheriff’s office reported Copeland believes Fabien Tepole, a worker at the farm where she left her infant, is the child’s father. A search of Wisconsin circuit court records revealed no current or past cases to determine the child’s paternity.
The person with whom Copeland left the child said Copeland looked for Tepole when she arrived at the farm. When she was not able to find him, Copeland placed the child, still in its car seat, on the ground next to the worker. She then walked to her car, got in and drove away.
Borgschatz said the worker with whom the child was left has no relation to the mother or the child, and had never met either prior to September 2. The sheriff’s department declined to identify the person with whom the child was left.
The mother told law enforcement she was approximately ten minutes down the road when she remembered Tepole would need supplies to care for the infant. She turned around to go back to the farm and leave adequate diapers, formula, wipes and other care items with Tepole. Copeland arrived after police reported to the scene.
“She got back just before the ambulance got there,” Captain Klatt said. “The EMTs were called because an infant had been left outdoors without adequate clothing or cover on a very chilly evening.”
The EMTs examined the infant at the scene and determined it was in good health. The child was then placed in protective custody.
It is unclear if the child remains in county custody, and St. Croix County Child Protection Services supervisor Matt Zabel was not able to comment on the case, citing child confidentiality and an ongoing safety assessment.