A missing Lakeville couple drove aimlessly around the Twin Cities area with their two young children for five days without showering or changing their clothes, often depriving them of food while living out of a borrowed vehicle, according to child endangerment charges filed Thursday.
Zachariah Daniel Wilson, 38, and Angela Dee Robinson, 33, were charged in Dakota County District Court with felony theft by temporary control and child neglect, a gross misdemeanor. The family of four was found in south Minneapolis on Tuesday following a short police chase — five days after Wilson’s mother reported them missing in her car.
When authorities finally caught up with the couple, they found a syringe and an unknown substance in the car’s center console, documents show. Officers detected a strong odor from the children, ages 4 and 7, who appeared “filthy” and hadn’t bathed since they left their grandmother’s house, where they live with Robinson. Wilson’s mother does not allow him in the home, according to charges.
Wilson and Robinson both remain jailed in lieu of $120,000 and $60,000 bail, respectively.
According to the criminal complaint:
The saga began last week, when Robinson, a recovering heroin addict who is on methadone, sneaked Wilson inside her bedroom because it was cold outside and he did not have a place to stay. After getting caught, Robinson borrowed a vehicle from Wilson’s mother, saying she’d drop Wilson at a friend’s house and return the next day to pick her up from work. She never did, and the children were gone when Wilson’s mother returned home Thursday night.
Wilson’s mother became concerned and reported the family missing last Friday afternoon. Police were unable to track the couple’s phones because they were turned off. Family members interviewed by police said it was unusual for Robinson to disappear without calling. Her brother said Wilson has been physically abusive in the past, and friends worried about threatening comments he’s made.
Wilson changed his relationship status to “widowed” the week before the family went missing, records show.
On Tuesday, a delivery worker noticed a suspicious vehicle parked by a south Minneapolis loading dock around 3 a.m., with a man and woman standing outside in what appeared to be disguises. When the man approached the couple, Wilson explained that they were “doing surveillance.”
After watching Robinson smack a child in the back seat, the worker threatened to call police. The couple fled, but the man followed until law enforcement could pull them over.
Robinson and the kids were wearing the same clothes as when they left and smelled from not bathing, officers said. No clothing or hygiene products were packed. When interviewed by a social worker, the eldest child said the family had been driving around for days and slept inside the car.
“He said some days they didn’t have breakfast, lunch, or dinner,” according to charges. “At night he said [Wilson] would get weird and mad at mom for no reason.”
In the past five years, Wilson has been convicted of second-degree drunken driving, fourth-degree damage to property and a handful of traffic violations, court records show. In March, he was convicted of threatening a West St. Paul police officer who had arrested him for drunken driving, telling the officer that he could track the officer anywhere and that the officer should not mess with gangs.