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Missing mother, 5 children found but questions remain | News

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Missing mother, 5 children found but questions remain

JONESBORO, Ga. -- Police say a mentally ill woman and her five young children have been found after going missing for two days.

Officials said Janee Dichier Ruffin-Cooper, who suffers from bipolar disorder, manic depression, paranoia and schizophrenia, walked away from a Clayton County home with her five children around 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

A concerned family member said Ruffin-Cooper had not made contact with friends or relatives and were concerned because she was without her medication.

Christina Heath, owner of Ernie's Bait and Tackle,  told 11Alive's Duffie Dixon that the family walked into her shop on Tara Boulevard Saturday afternoon and asked for help. 

"She just explained that she needed some place to go, that she was in a domestic violence situation that someone had smacked her children and she needed somewhere safe to go," Heath said. "The children had all told me they had been hit."

Store surveillance video shows Ruffin-Cooper sitting at the table with her kids and  borrowing the phone to call Clayton County Police.

"The officer said since she wasn't a victim herself there wasn't anything he could do," Heath said. "There were no bruises on the child to prove that someone had hit him. She asked the officer if he could please help her find a shelter and the officer said he would get right back with her and instead he pulled off and left her and her five children standing in the rain."

That was news to the upper brass at the Clayton County Police Department.

11Alive's Duffie Dixon spoke to Interim Police Chief Michael Register late Monday afternoon and he confirmed he'd found a call log that shows an officer responded to the bait and tackle store Saturday afternoon.

"We are investigating what exactly transpired. We'd like to talk to the officer who went out there," said Register.

Register said there will now be an internal investigation.

"Our policy is that we’re going to assist the citizens. Their safety is paramount especially when that citizen has children with her," said Register.

Heath said once the officer didn't help Ruffin-Cooper she made a list of shelters for the stranded mother to call. The family stayed in her shop for about three hours until early evening when a cab arrived to take them to a shelter that had room still available.



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