Police: Mother Left Child Unattended In Car In Social Services Parking Lot

A 28 year-old Johnston County woman has been charged with child abuse following an incident Tuesday afternoon in the parking lot of the Johnston County Department of Social Services on North Street in Smithfield.

Jessica Lynn Barnella of Sterling Street, Clayton was cited by Smithfield Police for misdemeanor child abuse and ordered to appear in court May 20th.

Around 4:51pm Tuesday,  officers responded to the parking lot at the DSS building after a social worker reportedly spotted a “very young child” unattended in a car.  Police said the child had been left alone for at least 30 minutes.  The age of the child was not released.

Police said the child’s mother, Jessica Barnella, was inside the DSS Building meeting with another social worker at the time of the incident.

Barnella was given a criminal citation at the scene for child abuse and released from custody.