July 18, 2013

Maine man accused of leaving kids in sweltering car

Jeremiah Hollenbeck of Lebanon is charged with child endangerment and having stolen property.

The Associated Press

FRANKLIN, N.H. — A Maine man who left four children ranging in age from 9 months to 9 years inside a car in 97-degree heat while he shopped at a discount store was ordered Thursday to have no contact with the children.

Jeremiah Hollenbeck

The Associated Press / Franklin Police Department

Police said 28-year-old Jeremiah Hollenbeck of Lebanon, Maine, was inside the Family Dollar store in Franklin for about 10 minutes on Wednesday, buying several decks of cards and shoplifting an $8 cellphone case.

Hollenbeck came out of the store only when he saw police trying to coax the older children to unlock a car door, according to court documents.

A Franklin District Court judge reduced Hollenbeck's bond from $200,000 to $50,000 and entered not guilty pleas on his behalf to four counts of child endangerment and one count of possession of stolen property. Judge Edward Gordon scheduled a probable cause hearing next week on a felony charge of drug possession stemming from an Oxycodone tablet police found when they searched his car.

The children were treated and released, but prosecutor Chris Ahern said he could not comment on who has custody.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Hollenbeck is the father of the 9-month-old twins who were in the car and has legal custody of the older children, ages 5 and 9. All four have the same mother, who Hollenbeck identified as his fiancee and said is currently in drug rehab.

Amid this week's heat wave, public officials have repeatedly cautioned drivers not to leave children or pets in vehicles.

Hollenbeck, who does not yet have a lawyer, is due back in court July 26.

Appearing via a video link, Hollenbeck told Gordon he works as a landscaper but can't pay a $50,000 bond.

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