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JEFFERSONVILLE — A Henryville woman is facing felony charges after police say she left her children at home more than 24 hours while she went to Tennessee earlier this month.

Ashley D. Kern, 36, was charged Friday with three level 6 felonies for neglect of a dependent related to allegations that she left the children, who are all under 15 years old, at home with no adult supervision.

Court records show that police were dispatched Sunday, Sept. 1, to Railroad Street in Henryville, after receiving a tip that a woman had left her children there while she went out of state and instructed them not to open the door for law enforcement.

And that appears to be what they did. When police arrived and knocked on the door, they saw a teen go into a bedroom and close the door. Only after they continued to knock did the child open the door for police, though there was a hesitance in answering their questions.

The boy at first said his mother had left earlier that day, telling him she was "leaving with friends" but didn't say where she was going. When officers asked again, he told police she had left the previous morning. On Saturday, three of the boy's younger siblings had spent the night with other family members; two had returned to the house Sunday.

After receiving another tip that there could be narcotics in the house, police went through with the child and another family member, to remove anything drug-related that was unsafe for the children. Police were shown a fabric softener bottle full of used syringes, a tin with an unused one, a tourniquet and a glass pipe with residue.

The items were taken into evidence by police and the children went to stay with a family member.

On Sept. 3, police spoke with a case worker with the Department of Child Services, and following a conversation with Kern, informed DCS that criminal charges would be filed.

When detectives met with her, Kern told them that she had been home that Saturday night, and had only left Sunday during the day to use a friend's computer for schoolwork.

"I told her there is no set age limit for a child to take care of themselves," the detective said, according to court records. "But when a ... child tells me that his mother left sometime Saturday morning without telling him where she was going and doesn't return until sometime Sunday night [after 10 p.m.] ... then there is a problem."

Police say the woman then changed her story and said she had gone to Tennessee, but not until Sunday. She said she and others had "went down to have a drink and drove right back," according to court records. She denied that the paraphernalia belonged to her, saying it had belonged to an ex-boyfriend.

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at aprile.rickert@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.

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