Merrillville woman charged after girls snuck out to mall in December without shoes or jackets

A Merrillville woman was charged Tuesday after two girls snuck out to the mall in December without shoes or jackets.

Gwendolynn Cain, 36, was charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent.

She has not been apprehended and is ordered held on a $20,000 or $2,000 cash surety bond.

A woman found the girls, aged 5 and 8, upstairs near Cooper’s Hawk and told mall security. The kids were with security less than an hour before police arrived around 2:15 p.m. Dec. 19.

One child wore shorts, while another wore “thin” pajama bottoms.

It was 30 degrees, the officer noted.

One girl claimed Cain, their dad’s girlfriend, had kicked them out of the apartment that day. When interviewed, the dad worked midnights and Cain said she had been napping with the girls and didn’t know they were gone.

The girls’ mom gave police two screwdrivers in their backpacks that the older child said she used to cut out the screens in the apartment to leave, the affidavit states.