The toddlers allegedly forgotten by their aunt at Lindee’s Sunday may have been left in the vehicle for up to two hours without jackets, hats or gloves at a time when the temperature was 25 degrees, according to court documents released Tuesday morning.
The criminal complaint provides further details on an incident in which 55-year-old Sarah Joan Philbrick, of Hopkins, reportedly left children in a vehicle that wasn’t running while she stopped in Lindee’s to drink Sunday night—and then left in a taxi without them.
The children were discovered after one of the bar’s employees heard a cough in a vehicle while going out to the parking lot to start her car, Officer Stacy Lakotas, wrote in the criminal complaint. The employee went back in the building but came out a short time later. As she approached the vehicle, she saw it had a small hole in its rear window and that there were two small children inside.
After finding that the doors were locked, the employee reached through the hole in the window—breaking it further to get inside—and removed the 2- and 3-year-old. Police were called at 7:44 p.m.
(The youngest was initially reported to be a 1-year-old, but police now say the child is actually 2 years old.)
Police determined that the children had warmed up sufficiently and then began searching for their mother. The license plates of the vehicle identified Philbrick as the owner. When police showed her driver’s license photo to Lindee’s employees, they said she’d been there earlier but had left in a taxi.
Philbrick’s husband told police she was the children’s aunt and had been caring for them because the weather was bad and their parents had not been able to travel from New Ulm to pick them up.
Police released the children to Philbrick’s husband.
Unnamed witnesses told police Philbrick had come into the bar at about 5:30 p.m. and ordered an iron butterfly and Long Island ice tea, according to the court documents. They then helped her into a cab. But when the children were brought into the bar, they realized they were the children Philbrick had been talking about.
Eventually, the taxi driver drove Philbrick back to the bar, angry because she had said she didn’t know where she wanted to go.
Philbrick was stumbling as she walked, and her words were slurred. When officers asked her about the children, she said, “I have two dogs.”
Police tried to get her blood alcohol content using a portable breath test. But she refused to take the test, and officers arrested her.
Philbrick has been charged with two counts of gross misdemeanor child endangerment—which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.
She was released from Hennepin County jail at 12:49 a.m. Tuesday on a revised bond of $0 (bond had originally been set at $6,000), according to jail records. She’s scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.