Houston Teacher Charged With Child Cruelty | Crime
Warner Robins police this week arrested and charged a Houston County school teacher with child cruelty.
The Lake Joy Elementary teacher, Theresa Umbarger, says she's innocent.
Warner Robins Police accused 40-year-old Umbarger of leaving her granddaughter unattended, because she was drunk.
The charge does not involve students.
Theresa Umbarger spent one night in the Houston County jail, after being released on a $5,000 bond.
She's says she believes the charge will eventually be dropped.
The trouble started last Thursday night, August 8th, when a police report says a neighbor found Umbarger's three-year-old granddaughter wandering down Wallace Drive, screaming for her mother.
It was about 11:30 p.m., and the neighbor told police the child was not wearing clothes.
The report says the neighbor brought the child home, and put her inside, without seeing an adult.
Another neighbor reported hearing the child "screaming and crying" for about an hour, before police arrived.
When police got to the home, they found Umbarger asleep, with a 24-ounce Bud Light Lime-a-rita by the bed.
An officer had a difficult time waking her up, saying in the report, "I had to forcefully shake Ms. Umbarger many times with my hands to get her up."
When Umbarger finally woke-up, the report says she appeared to be "highly intoxicated" and became "very beligerent".
Police said Umbarger became verbally abusive, and they took her into custody.
Thursday afternoon at their home, Theresa Umbarger and her daughter, Amber Umbarger, told a different version of the story to 13WMAZ.
Neither wanted to talk on camera, but spoke with us on the front porch.
Amber called the case "ridiculous".
She said she was at a movie, while her mom babysat her two children.
She says her three-year-old was asleep, woke-up, and when she realized her mom wasn't home, wandered out the door.
Amber said, "Anybody's child can get outside."
Theresa Umbarger had tears in her eyes, when she came to the door. She said she was drinking that night, but wasn't drunk.
She said she had difficulty waking up when police arrived, because she's a sound sleeper.
She said within ten minutes of the police arriving, her ex-husband came to the home to watch the children. Theresa Umbarger said their mother, Amber, arrived home five minutes after that.
Theresa said she's done nothing wrong. She said she did get angry with police coming into her home, as most people would.
Umbarger said she wants the charges dropped and wants to return to work.
She said she has been a teacher for ten years; seven of them in the Houston County school system.
Houston County Superintendent Robin Hines says Umbarger has not been back on the job since her arrest. She's not been fired, but he says they are looking for a permanent replacement for her classroom.
After 13WMAZ talked with Theresa and Amber, Amber posted an on-line petition, asking for the charges against her mother to be dropped.
As a condition of her bond, Theresa Umbarger cannot have unsupervised conduct with her grandchildren.