Mom arrested after child found wandering on Broad has criminal record

Michelle L. Knighten

Michelle L. Knighten

RICHMOND, Va. – Police have arrested a mother after her child was found wandering alone along West Broad Street multiple times in four days. Michelle L. Knighten, 39, is charged with one count of felony child neglect, according to Richmond Police.

Court records indicate that Knighten has a lengthy history of drinking and driving. According to court records, police have charged Knighten with DWI four different times since 2009; in Charlottesville, Richmond and Henrico. CBS 6 also obtained a felony arrest warrant for Knighten out of Henrico, which shows that in May 2013 she was charged with maliciously wounding a man with whom she has a child.

The charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, but Knighten was ordered to have no alcohol and no contact with the victim.

The four-year-old boy was first spotted walking along the 100 block of West Broad Street on Friday.

Then on Monday police responded after a man walking his dog saw the child and called 911, witnesses said.

The boy ended up on the sidewalk along Broad Street three different times in four days, according to police.

Neighbors Giovanni Abruzzese said he called police on Friday when he found the child walking down four flights of stairs alone and nude.

“I was expecting Richmond Police and CPS to get the child into a safe home,” Abruzzese said.

“This is Broad Street.  It’s one of the busiest streets if not the busiest in Richmond,” he said about the dangers of the situation.

Detective Steve Kendell with the Richmond Police Department said the first time RPD found the child they blamed a distracted mother.

The second time, Kendell said they thought the mom had a medical condition, and again, did not press charges.

“Some people might say after the second time there should have been this charge placed,” Melissa Hipolit said to Kendell

“After talking to the mother we thought she was medically ill,” Kendell said.

Still, by the third time the child was found wandering outside alone, which happened Monday morning, no charges had been placed and neighbors were concerned.

“Three times is too much,” Abruzzese.

By Tuesday afternoon, RPD announced they had charged the boy’s mother, Michelle Knighten, with felony child neglect.

“The third time was the cake,” Kendell said.

While CBS 6 was visiting Knighten’s apartment on Tuesday, a man showed up carrying a child that Abruzzese identified as the wandering 4-year-old.

“I wanted to ask you if the child is OK?” Melissa Hipolit asked.

“The child is fine,” the man replied before shutting the door to the apartment.

CBS 6 is not sure who the man is, but police did tell us the boy is in the custody of his father.

Neighbor Mizante Sorilla says last Friday the boy and his mother Michelle Knighten were visiting her apartment for a while.

She said she was taken aback when the young boy was able to open the door himself to leave.

“It’s as simple as this turn –the knob and walked out,” Sorilla explained.

After the pair left, Sorilla said later she noticed something odd.

The child’s toy firetruck was in the hallway, their apartment door was open, and the little boy’s mother was asleep on the bed.

There was no sign of the little boy.

“I shook her like this. I said the baby is gone, the baby is gone. I ran out of the door and I said you go and check this way, I will check that way,” Sorilla said.

CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone says if convicted on the felony child neglect charge, the mother could face up to five years in prison.


  • Adrienne Sydnor

    That’s great news. Maybe the mom can get help if she is that medically needy and the child can be put somewhere safe. With saying that, will anybody be charged with felony child neglect resulting in death in the case of Gionna Sydnor?

    • Clayton Bigsby

      The medical condition is called low IQ and it runs rampant in Richmond. They can’t feed themselves, house themselves, or even raise their children in a manner that may someday end this cycle of poverty, without seemingly endless tax dollars thrown down the drain to try and lift them up. It’s really sad and there’s no end in sight.

      • Troll

        What do you do to resolve the medial condition you assert manalishi? Do you want to build large gas chambers for the distraught masses? You have no clue what this woman’s IQ is, and much less any medical condition. Surely her IQ must be greater than yours given the comments you post.

      • Clayton Bigsby

        Troll, make no mistake that my IQ is far above the average US citizen. Thanks in part to inner city trash. The last test I took was 146. Maybe, just maybe, that’s why you find it difficult to discuss issues when it’s just easier for the feeble-minded like yourself to speak of hate and gas chambers as a reaction to facts.

      • manalishi

        Troll? Now why would i resolve the conditions you endorse? This is your lifestyle, your base, and you core beliefs.

      • athynz

        David/Troll is incapable of discussing any real issue despite his claims of intelligence. About all he is capable of is flinging insults at people like a monkey flings it’s own poo, calling people liars and yet not backing those claims up, and in general yapping at his betters.

        Now on topic I have to wonder what sort of “medical condition” they think she had. Not that it’s any excuse for allowing the child to run free for at least 3 days in a row but I admit I’m curious. What sort of medical condition would be accepted as an excuse to allow a child that young to be out of the parent’s/guardian’s sight for a long enough period of time to be running in the street?

      • Troll

        clayton/manalishi, and other names you go by …… No, you do not have the IQ you claim to have. Your posts indicate you posses the intelligence level of typical skin head white trash. Yes, you have an IQ greater than athynz, but that isn’t saying much, most do. If you believe intelligent people believe you then you are delusional as well as stupid.

      • athynz

        Ah yes, yet another intelligent post by David/Troll – chock full of insight and wisdom about the topic at hand rather than yet another attack on people who post… oh wait, there is no intelligence or wisdom in anything David posts. Don’t you ever get tired of being wrong David?

    • JoHo

      Makes no difference what HER condition is. The child should be in a safe home. The stupid cops should have done something about it the first time they responded.

  • Tonya

    I’m glad nothing happened to the child. @ Ms. Adrienne Sydnor, I saw you on the news a while back talking about your beautiful granddaughter. I pray you and Gionna get the justice you both need & deserve. Keep you head up & don’t give up. You both are in my prayers :-)

    • Tonya

      You’re just a white meth head cracker just like your where of a mother & absentee father. That’s why you have so much hate. Stop blaming people for your sorry a** life & upbringing. White trailer park trash!!!!

  • manalishi

    Well you may be, But who am i to judge? I hope you feel better with a public confession like that.

    • Clayton Bigsby

      You’re total trash, but certainly you know that by now. Please make sure you put the toys in the happy meals tomorrow. Hahaha. Loser!

      • BO

        gee’s is the standard black response when things don’t go their way and yet they still wonder why they die like flies.

  • TeeEmm

    Hey, did anybody read the article about the mother arrested because her child kept getting out of the apartment?

  • Becky

    No public “servant” in Richmond City Government will ever have to answer to or for this.
    Responsibility and accountability is reserved for those he doesn’t like or have embarrassed him through an investigational report.

  • Robo

    It s pretty clear that this woman has problems and hopefully she can get help. That said, the child should be removed permanently from her custody. There are many loving parents that would be more than happy to take care of this child.

  • sw

    Can you arguing idiots on here set up your own little chatroom and keep the comments to the article please.

  • sw

    The police were the first to not do their jobs. Second it was reported on Sunday that cps had been called after the second time that day and the child was left with the father. So the second people to not do their job was cps. I didn’t know it was 3 strikes you are out when dealing with child neglect. Richmond has already been under fire for not doing their job and letting children die while in the system so you would think they would be stepping up to the plate a little better but I guess not.

  • Gail

    What a piece of trash! That baby deserves so much better. The child slipping away once can be chalked up to a scary accident. More than that is plain out & our neglect. This woman has no business having children!

  • athynz

    Why are you so full of hate? Where is the compassion and common courtesy? Or do you think it’s okay to act like this behind a keyboard like that David/Troll dude does?

  • John Bonn

    They let her out with a bond! Apparently the father/fiancé and family claim it’s insomnia and the child is “large ” for his age.

  • san

    .O. K. whose asleep at the wheel?? It’s not just Richmond CPS. Run for Dinwiddie if you’re a lazy, crack head, weed smoking, mama that has degrees and won’t work. Dinwiddie has had at least 3 visits about a family and although the supervisor says they “follow up” on every report, that is a down right lie. A CPS employee was reported to and was later asked if she did a follow up and she shook her head no. Well the head shake was because she didn’t want to be on tape saying she basically shirked her duty. So now there is a 16 year old who is now a mother, living with her 18 year old baby daddy, in his mother’s home. Who, by the way, is a Dinwiddie special ed teacher. What do you think your kids are being taught. The mother of the girl, has a couple of degrees and will not work. Why not you ask, she can get food stamps if the girl is at her house for one day a month, she can draw for the whole month, gets Section 8 housing, and child support and s.s. for her children. This was told to me by the same case worker at CPS who shakes her head.Oh and she, the mother, couldn’t pass a drug test on a good day. Her children were taught at an early age to “hide momma’s stash” if social services comes knocking. Now tell me if the whole county needs a “shake up” from the Top Dog on down to the lowest office. I think these people all have a boss but who is it??? Reports have been made to CPS for well over 1 1/2 years on this family……Lets wake up the system or don’t expect any more than what you are getting right now…..These offices need an outside investigation. They have been policing their selves way too long.

  • pippin

    I say innocent until proven guilty. We do not know any more than a news story and we do not have the details fo what police know and cps knows. I wonder why this Abruzzese saw the kid on the fourth floor did not intervene and allow the kid to get to broad st???? Why was he not charged under Good Samaritan law? He obviously knew where the kid lived, based off the news report he apparently did nothing?

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