UPDATE: Former Day Care Owner Appears In Court Again

By: Lauren Keeling; Todd Baucher; Mollie Lair Email
By: Lauren Keeling; Todd Baucher; Mollie Lair Email
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UPDATE 8/20/2015 11:24 AM

Three years ago, WTAP told you about a daycare center owner leaving a child in his hot car. Wednesday, that man appeared before a judge.

Officials say Kenneth Rockhold left 4-year-old Mercedes Wise in a hot car outside of Lynn's Little Ones Day Care Center back in 2012. The toddler died due to the heat.

Rockhold previously pleaded not guilty to child neglect resulting in death. In March, he withdrew that plea.

Judge Beane rescheduled Rockhold for an arraignment on September 24th and from there, he will get a new trial date.

UPDATE: 5:25 PM 3/16/2015

Almost three years ago, police say a four year old died after being left in a hot car at Lynn's Little Ones Day Care Center.

One of the co-owners, Kenneth Rockhold Senior, previously pleaded not guilty to child neglect resulting in death.

Monday he withdrew his plea and is trial is set for June 23, 2015.

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.

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.


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.


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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  • by ANONYMOUS Location: vienna on Sep 4, 2012 at 05:47 AM
    okay, here's my GUESS on the situation just going by what i've learned about the mother from people who know her..CPS has apparently taken her children away from her several times..and they were just released back into her care..the little girl was said to be sick..and she was four years old. I don't understand how at four years old how she couldn't simply just open the door of the car and get out herself..i mean that makes NO SENSE! Heres what i'm guessing..mommy maybe gave her a little bit too much medicine or something the night before and she passed..maybe an accident. then the mother sets this whole thing up to look like it's the daycares fault. From what i've HEARD, the daycare owners were very nice people who take good care of the children and care for them..and also have gone out of their way to help the mother get to and from where she needed to be, including to school. I guess maybe this makes me sounds like a judgemental bad person but i have a bad feeling about this story..and i may be wrong completely but the fact that a woman would put their baby on the floor of a car instead of bucking them in the seat in the first place tells ME something about them, besides the fact they "forgot to mention" that she was even in the car. Now yes, i know i wasn't there to witness the whole story and it is a tragedy in the least. It breaks my heart for this poor beautiful child who didn't even get a chance to live out her life..so i just pray God has mercy on WHOEVER is responsible. REST IN PEACE SWEETHEART!
  • by janie Location: wingett run on Sep 3, 2012 at 08:40 PM
    everyone should put their nose in their own dang business.... let them worry who cares what you all think you ain't no one speciel to judge anyone... rip my dear little neice... we love and will always miss you honey..
  • by Ashamed of peoples comments!!!! Location: Vienna on Sep 3, 2012 at 11:35 AM
    Just hard to believe that people can have such rude and harsh comments that I have seen on here about this tragedy!!!! All of you are so eager to pass judgement on the day care when all the evidence and interviews have yet to be released!!! I can only hope to read apologies following your negative comments after the facts come out!! May God help you all!!!
  • by Becky Location: Vienna on Sep 3, 2012 at 05:29 AM
    As a daycare provider and mother of 3 and grandmother of 2...My prayers go out to all involved in this tragedy...The truth will come out and the person truly responsible will be punished....But that will not bring back this precious little girl...All children, no matter their situation at home, should be treated like the precious little angels that GOD has sent to us...I love my daycare children like they are my own and they are treated as such...I pray that other daycares do the same...But the fact is a little girl,Mercedes, lost her life at the hands of someone else and I pray that she is in peace...TO those involved, you will be held accountable for your actions...To all others parents out there,please take care of your precious little ones...If you can't, don't be to proud to ask for help...People will think better of you for that then to neglect your children...People dont judge or bash anyone if you dont know the facts...Justice will be done...My thoughts and prayers go out for all the families involved...GOD BLESS everyone...
  • by Anonymous on Sep 2, 2012 at 06:28 PM
    Being realistic? It's realistic to never make mistakes? What world are you in? It was the biggest mistake anyone could have made, but do you think it was done on purpose?..as a joke? No, that person will forever live with that. And you will forever live with being harsh & judgemental. Please step out of Gods shoes, he has it covered. that's realistic.
  • by Disapointed Location: Parkersburg on Sep 1, 2012 at 09:13 PM
    God bless you little one. May god Bless you and craddle you in his light! For the rest of you! SHUT UP! pray for this baby being stripped of life...pray for god to deliver judgment of the issue as seen do. DO NOT DISHONOR this child with complaints and finger pointing. Love your neighbors, friends, family and selves. through caring and helpfulness things like this would not happen. Prayers and love are what is needed now. For a breif time after 9-11 communities pulled together that where not even close to the cities and sites involved. Today's news shows more deaths of children than adults..some accidental...some negligence..some all about abuse. Pray and get involved in your community. reach out to those that need help and be the community that everyone has seen from time time and that should remain. Pray for this child...pray for the family..and then reach out a hand!
  • by obxnana Location: Parkersburg on Sep 1, 2012 at 06:21 PM
    I won't comment on the facts of this tragedy because all the facts are not known by anyone yet. I do know that I can't find it in me to believe that anyone purposely harmed this child. I can't fathom the torment the family and daycare personnel are going through but I will pray that God eases their burdens. Please, please don't point fingers of blame or accuse anyone unjustly. I remember a poster that used to hang in my friend's office "God Please Make My Words Sweet Today As I May Have To Eat Them Tomorrow"
  • by Parkersburg on Sep 1, 2012 at 01:27 PM
    This is why a lot of people are against daycare centers. If you have seen the outside or thie inside of this place, you would run. this is a nasty place to send any child. I have only seen one almost as bad as this place which was heaven sent daycare center on south side.
    • reply
      by punctuation on Sep 1, 2012 at 03:52 PM in reply to Parkersburg
      The reason people are against daycare is that they are businesses, not loving parents. It is understandable that daycare is sometimes a necessity; however, it should be short term until one of the parents can properly stay with the child. Nobody is going to care for your child like you would! If a child has a grandparent it would be a much safer place to leave a child. After all, they raised you! If you were born again, would you rather be raised by a loving parent, or a daycare? If there is one person here that would rather be raised by a daycare, I would love to know why.
    • reply
      by Autumn on Sep 2, 2012 at 10:47 AM in reply to Parkersburg
      This daycare is not nasty, it is a very nice place and I would send my kids there! Yes I would, I guarantee the daycare had nothing to do with the childs death! P.S you can't judge a book by it's cover!!
    • reply
      by Kimmi on Sep 3, 2012 at 08:55 AM in reply to Parkersburg
      Yes, I agree I have never been inside the daycare, but anyone can see the play area and it does not look like a safe place to me. There is old toys & even furniture stacked up way over a adults head even, and it has been there for a while. You would think that with as many kids that they have in their care everyday that they could take the time to make it a lil safer for the kids. I would like to add that I myself am a certified in home daycare provider thru the state, and I know the procedure of the home inspections that we workers have to go thru and apparently some things must have been overlooked in this case, just sayin.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2012 at 01:04 PM
    It is not known yet what exactly happened, so please everyone, stop pointing fingers. You can run your mouths all you want after the investigation is over and we have found who is at fault here. I have known this little girl since the day she was born and have loved her with all my heart since. She was a sister to me and I would appreciate it if everyone focused more on the fact that an innocent, loving, extraordinary child had her life involuntarily taken rather than putting your two cents where they don't belong.
  • by concerned Location: parkersburg on Aug 31, 2012 at 11:51 PM
    my only question.....why would anyone place a sick little girl on the floor in the back ''trunk'' of a vehicle in the first place?God!!!!! i wouldn't do that to my dog.R.I.P.little one
    • reply
      by lee on Sep 1, 2012 at 10:07 AM in reply to concerned
      I firmly believe that if this had not occurred, this poor little one would not be dead. Furthermore if I had sent a sick child to daycare (which I would not have)I would have been calling throughout the day to check on her, not sitting at home on facebook. I truly believe that the daycare had no idea she was in the car. RIP little one.
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