WACO, TX (06/08/2017) — Waco police have arrested the owner of Miss Pepper’s Place Daycare, as well as one of her employees, for multiple felony charges following allegations of child abuse.
According to Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, 37-year-old Pepper Jones and 30-year-old Brittany Starr Hale were arrested Thursday following an investigation by the Waco Police Department’s crimes against children unit. Swanton reports that the investigation remains open, and additional charges could be brought.
Pepper Jones, the owner of Miss Pepper’s Place (located at 3800 Lasker Avenue), was arrested Thursday on one felony charge of injury to a child as well as six state-jail felony charges of endangering a child. Brittany Hale was also arrested Thursday on six felony counts of injury to a child.
Arrest affadavits for Jones showed that the mother of a 2-year-old boy took her child to the hospital in early April due to a dislocated shoulder and a broken elbow. During the evaluation, the boy allegedly touched his arm and said “Pepper, my arm, right here, doctor.” The boy also allegedly pointed to his buttocks and said “Pepper.” Police were made aware of the incident on April 4th, 2017, and began their investigation. The affidavit also points to a text message sent from Jones to another parent which stated that “I messed with his arm and it popped.”
Arrest affidavits for Hale showed that the employee was allegedly caught on video forcefully grabbing a 2-year-old girl by the back of her hair and pulling her forward toward the door. The affidavit also says that Hale grabbed a 23-month-old girl by her “pig tail,” dragged a 1-year-old girl across the room by her ear, as well as other incidents involving “slaps, ear pulling and pushing.”
Detectives reviewed just seven days worth of video footage taken from a home security system at the daycare facility, and in just that one-week of video footage (recorded March 28th through April 3rd), found evidence of child abuse involving six victims. According to Sgt. Swanton, the children subjected to this physical abuse ranged from 10-months to 2-years-old.
“Obviously, these types of cases are a shock to our community… Parents expect when they entrust their little ones in the care of another that there will be a lot of care in that. It is a horrible shock not only to the parent, but to the community as well, when our trusted daycare providers abuse that trust,” said Swanton.
Bail was set at $21,000 for Pepper Jones, and $24,000 for Brittany Starr Hale. Both suspects posted bail and were released from custody on 06/09/2017.
According to the Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS), Miss Pepper’s Place says it will not reopen and will surrender its license.