Thursday, August 14, 2008

Woman accused of kidnapping child found near cemetery was near breakdown

A woman who was arrested after police said she dropped a 4-year-old off at a cemetery in the middle of the night was showing signs of a mental breakdown in the days leading up to the incident, a family member says.

Gidi Guerrier, 23, of Tallahassee, was arrested July 28 on charges of child abuse and kidnapping. According to court documents, Guerrier dropped the child off in St. Marks between 3 and 4:30 a.m. The child wandered around alone for some time before being found by a citizen. The child was not hurt and is now in the custody of the father.

Guerrier, the mother of two young daughters, routinely cared for the 4-year-old, said Tawanna Sykes of Atlanta. Sykes' son is the father of Guerrier's daughters. They all lived at the same Tallahassee apartment with another woman, the mother of the 4 year old.

Sykes said Guerrier had no history of mental illness or drug use but recently started acting strangely. She had lost her job and was under a lot of stress. She said she was normally a caring and responsible mom.

"It's like she has just been experiencing a mental breakdown," Sykes said. "I would talk to her on the phone ... and her whole frame of mind was changing. It was like she was trying to save the world from evil. She thought everyone around her was evil or she thought someone was out to get her."

Sykes, a Tallahassee native who owns a construction business, said she and other family members tried to get Guerrier help starting July 24. But she said police officers and deputies who showed up didn't get her the help she needed.

"If they had just taken her somewhere to be evaluated by a professional, they would have known that there was a problem and that she needed help," she said.

Officials with the Tallahassee Police Department and the Sheriff's Office responded by saying Guerrier didn't show signs of being a danger to herself or others at the time.

Under Florida law, people can be placed in involuntary psychiatric care if they are incapable of surviving on their own without treatment or there is a likelihood they will hurt themselves or someone else.

Police were called to Guerrier's apartment July 25 in reference to a family dispute. An officer who responded had no indication that Guerrier needed to be taken into custody, said David McCranie, spokesman for TPD.

"She did not make any statements or take any actions that led the officer to believe that she was in need of mental-health services," he said.

Deputies were called to the apartment twice July 24 in reference to family disputes. No action was taken, and neither of the calls had to do with mental-health issues, said Sgt. Tony Drzewiecki, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.

Deputies were called a third time on July 25 to assist TPD. The call was about a woman who was saying that everyone was evil. Tallahassee police were already on scene when the deputy arrived.

"We never evaluated this person because there was no reason for us to evaluate this person," he said.

No reports were taken of the incidents, McCranie and Drzewiecki said. Leon County declined to release any 911 tapes from the Guerrier residence because of an ongoing TPD investigation.

Guerrier has pleaded not guilty and has been appointed a public defender, according to court records. She is being held without bail in the county jail.

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