Update: Day Care Owner Pleads Not Guilty

By: Lauren Keeling; Todd Baucher; Mollie Lair Email
By: Lauren Keeling; Todd Baucher; Mollie Lair Email

UPDATE: 4:07 PM 7/23/2013

On Monday, Lester Rockhold pleaded not guilty to child neglect resulting in death.

Last year he allegedly left 4 year-old Mercedes Wise in a hot car outside the day care he owned with his wife. The toddler died as a result.

He's being held on $15,000 bond. His trial is set for December 10th.

While his family didn't want to go on camera, his wife Linda says he's a good man.
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Updated 5:30 P.M. 9/25/2012

The family of a child found dead in a hot car has filed a lawsuit against the Parkersburg day care center where it happened.

The suit names the owners, of Lynn's Little Ones day care center, Lester and Linda Rockhold.

It claims four-year old Mercedes Wise was left all day, in a car owned by the center with no running air conditioning, doors which apparently were locked and windows closed.

It was reported last month temperatures that day were close to 90 degrees.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources says the day care has been closed since the incident, and that an investigation is continuing.

Tthe suit charges that the center's co-owner, Lester Rockhold, drove Shawna Wise to West Virginia University at Parkersburg, leaving at 9:10 A.Mm. with her daughter, Mercedes, in his car.

It is not known, according to the suit, when he arrived at the day care center on College Parkway.

It is believed, again according to the suit, that Rockhold failed to drop the child off at Lynn's Little Ones.

The child was found in the vehicle at five that afternoon, and was pronounced dead a short time later.

The suit seeks damages, although it does not list a dollar amount, and a trial by jury.

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Updated 10:30 A.M. 9/05/2012

The proceedures of a day care center where a child died after being left in a parked car last week are being probed by a state agency.

Marsha Dadisman, Director of Communications for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, told WTAP Wednesday that the license of Lynn's Little Wonders Day Care Center was revoked August 31.

Dadisman did not say specifically what the agency was investigating, but added that a preliminary finding would be released before a final report would be completed.

She says the daycare has the right to appeal the DHHR's decision on the revocation.

Updated: 5:45 P.M. 8/31/2012

What we know now is that the four-year old girl was in a car parked at the Lynn's Little Wonders Day Care, located off College Parkway on the outskirts of Parkersburg. efforts to contact the center Friday afternoon were unsuccessful.

"We have seven Wood County deputies and detectives working on this matter, conducting interviews, obtaining videotapes," said Jeff Sandy, Wood County Sheriff. "We are putting together our investigation to determine if there was negligence, or if this was a criminal matter."

The sheriff says deputies were called to the scene shortly after 5:30 Thursday afternoon. EMT's called to the scene determined the girl had died. Sheriff Sandy says this is another tragedy that can be avoided.

"We do not recommend leaving a child in a car for any length of time, due to many factors: the heat, the cold, and the possibility that someone can break into your car, steal your car, and steal your child."

The body has been taken to the West Virginia Medical Examiner's office in Charleston, which, it is hoped, can not only determine the cause of the girl's death, but also how long she was in the car.

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Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy says his office is investigating the death of a young girl. Preliminary reports indicate she was left in a hot car for a period of time.

The call came in around 5:30 Thursday evening at the Lynn's Little Wonders daycare off College Parkway.

Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy says his detectives are talking to witnesses, trying to work out exactly what happened to the little girl.

The sheriff says the initial investigation suggests the four-year old child was left in the car for some time.

Sheriff Sandy told WTAP a short time ago that it is not known what, if any, involvement the daycare had in the child's death.

The child's body has been sent to the state medical examiner's office in Charleston.

Stay tuned to WTAP and wtap.com for more information as it is released.


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