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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - De’Jannay Raggins, 20, is now behind bars charged with child neglect, but her family says the young mother does not belong in jail.
“For the past few weeks I've noticed a change in her,” Raggins' sister Chasity Flemming told Jacksonville TV station ActionNewsJax.
Police say Raggins approached a stranger outside his Florida home Saturday, put her 9-month-old baby, Diva, into his truck, and then walked away.
Police issued a notice during their search for Raggins Saturday, and a tip from the child’s grandfather led police to Raggins at a Taco Bell hours later, where investigators say she told them "someone took my baby."
“One minute she's herself, the next minute she's not,” said Shanneria Thomas, Raggins' cousin.
Thomas said Raggins suffered a mental breakdown earlier this month and she was brought in for an involuntary mental health examination under the Baker Act from Dec.18-22.
“When she got out, she was back to normal, but then she lost the medicine somehow and started back having those episodes,” said Flemming.
The stranger Raggins approached Saturday requested to remain unidentified, but told ActionNewsJax Raggins wasn’t making sense. He said he was pulling out of his driveway, when Raggins stopped him, opened the passenger door of his truck and began putting the baby inside.
“I asked her what was going on and at first I thought she couldn’t hear, because she wasn’t responding, but then she started talking on the phone and she turned up my radio so I couldn’t hear what she was saying.”
The man said Raggins began walking down the road and tried to get into the car of another stranger. Together, he said, they attempted to follow Raggins, but lost track of her.
“We looked for about 30 minutes, and waited for her to come back, then I knew I had to call police.”
Raggins' family acknowledges her criminal history, but said she recently graduated and was on a better track. Then, they say, in December, she began seeing things that didn’t exist and saying things out of the ordinary. The family said they attempted to have her Baker Acted earlier in the day Saturday, but was told she didn't meet criteria because she wasn’t threatening herself and refused to be self-committed.
“So they basically waited until something like that to happen,” said Flemming, who said she is frustrated with the mental health system.
Now she’s hoping the court system will get Raggins the help she needs.
“We know what's wrong,” said Thomas, “We just need them to help us get her the help that she needs, because she's never been a bad mother.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Children and Families confirms that Raggins' 9-month-old daughter has been placed in foster care, and that a judge will determine if she will later be placed with a family member. Raggins' 6-year-old daughter was already in the custody of another family member prior to the incident on Saturday.
Raggins' next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 20.