, Muskogee, OK

Local News

July 12, 2007

Parents face child abuse charges after baby found near I-40

A 7-week-old girl has been placed with relatives while her parents face child abuse charges after the baby was found lying near Interstate 40 on a 92-degree day last week.

The girl was found lying on the Dwight Mission exit ramp to I-40 about 2 p.m. Saturday.

The child has since been treated at a Tulsa hospital, taken into protective custody and placed with relatives, according to Sequoyah County District Court records filed Wednesday and obtained by the Phoenix on Thursday.

Vian Police Officer Dennis Thomas reported he first thought he saw a baby doll lying on the ground underneath the driver’s side door of her parents’ vehicle, according to an affidavit filed by Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Deputy Lance Yochum.

A female identified as the child’s mother, Ashley Cleek, 21, of Lancing, Tenn., was in the driver’s seat, half in and half out of the vehicle. She had to be awakened for the baby to be retrieved, Thomas told Yochum.

Thomas had received a call from dispatch advising him to do a welfare check on the vehicle.

An emergency room worker at Sallisaw later advised Yochum that when the baby was brought in, she was covered in dirt, had a knot on the side of her head and had scratches and bruises.

Officials were advised that Ashley Cleek came into the emergency room and was having problems staying awake.

A registered nurse told Yochum the baby had dirt and small pieces of gravel on her hands and between her fingers.

Kenneth Cleek, 35, the alleged father of the injured baby, was passed out in the back seat of the car when the first officers arrived. He allegedly was intoxicated on Xanax, according to prosecutors.

Ashley Cleek told police the couple had pulled over to the side of the road about 5 a.m. Police also found an 18-month-old baby boy in a car seat in the vehicle. A judge initially ordered the Department of Human Services to take custody of the children.

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