Waffle House server who left child, 2, home alone, charged with felony child cruelty

Shutterstock image.
Shutterstock image.

UPDATED TUESDAY, DEC. 13 — A Fayetteville woman, who is facing felony child cruelty charges after leaving her 2-year-old alone at home while working her night shift at a local restaurant, speaks out below.

Demetria J. Barner, 24, was charged with felony cruelty to children and driving with a suspended license, according to Fayette County Jail records. Barner said in a comment to this story, “I was literally five minutes from home [and] did not know my license was suspended.”

Barner on Dec. 9 was initially stopped by Fayetteville police at 2:17 a.m. for a suspended license violation, said Fayetteville Police Department spokesman Jeff Harris, adding that Barner said she had ended her 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. shift at a Waffle House.

Once at the Fayette County Jail, Barner was overheard on a phone call instructing someone to go to her house and pick-up her two-year-old child, Harris noted.

Asked about the whereabouts of her child, Barner said a caregiver was at the home with her child. Yet when police arrived for a welfare check, they found no one on the premises, Harris explained.

The child was secured by officers and turned over to family members.

Here is Barner’s full statement: “I am A single mother that just moved from Gwinnett to Fayetteville by myself. I been living in Fayetteville for four weeks now. Yes, I’m wrong for doing that but I don’t get no help from my child’s father and I wanted to make sure my daughter have a good Christmas. I love my daughter to death. This is my first charge and I’m going to fight for this. I’m never been locked up. I’m innocent. They treated me like s**t in that jail. Even the officer that pulled me over was being mean to me. I was literally five minutes from home. I did not know my license was suspended.”


  1. Short of a not yet court appointed attorney, Ms. Barner has no advocate. In finally presenting Ms. Barner a Christmas present last night, I completed a frustrating journey. I discovered caring, sympathetic and courteous people throughout. I also found the Fayette Office of the State’s Division of Family and Children’s Services did not have a file or record of the child’s removal, though the supervisor had read “The Citizen” article about Ms. Barner’s arrest and felony charge. She referred me to the Fayetteville Police Department, where a community relations type officer suggested I vet Ms. Barner’s child care service with the appropriate city hall. I could not find any child care services operating during the hours of 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM. I contated Promise Place, but Ms. Barner’s cause is not within their mission and purpose. Promise Place could not offer any suggestions. I asked a lady I know from church and it’s monthly food pantry effort for help, and help she did. With my wife in tow, I met Ms. Barner last night and am pleased to report my gut impression appeared to be accurate. Whereas all I wanted to do was slip the present under a door and run, Ms. Barner and my wife talked and hugged. It was a hopeful and pleasant ocassion and yet, I’m still sad for Ms. Barner.

    Ms. Barner, for all practical purposes is a single mother. She is petite and perhaps the least intimidating young “adult” imaginable with a smile that melted my old, cold, lump-of-coal heart. Her boss and fellow employees seemed to think well of her. I’m very much afraid she and her child will suffer unrecoverable injuries if the Court gives no mercy. I believe Ms. Barner, if not convicted of a felony, will serve our county as viable and contributing citizen. She’s that type of person. Ms. Barner needs an advocate-mentor. I pray she finds one or one finds her. I ask you to pray with me.

  2. [Deleted] She is young and I hope she gets on the right track. She could have a wonderful future if she makes smart decisions for herself in the future, BUT she needs to NEVER leave her child home alone ever again. I am tired of people using poverty as a reason for child neglect, child abuse, and stupid decisions they make. And she needs to stop looking for money on here from strangers. Call social services, call local churches, call your family. Don’t ask strangers on here for financial help. There are plenty of organizations and churches that will help single mothers and help your child. The state of Georgia is full of charitable people, but you need to take some initiative for yourself and be a contributor and not a taker. CAPS is a childcare program offered by the state of Georgia. Look into it. And of course there are food stamps available for low income families. The state of Georgia does not want children to go without eating. And there is medical care for kids for free. Yes, you have to work, but you do not have to leave your child home alone or neglect your child in any way.

  3. I hope our district attorney reads these articles and blog comments. I cannot think of a greater golden opportunity to do something really good this Christmas season. Here we have a 24 year old, apparently single mother with a two year old, lacking even the most rudimentary support facing felony charges. What is her crime, simple child neglect, gross child neglect, willful misconduct toward a child? As in most cases, I don’t know the answers, but between our “great” State’s family services, social workers, churches and charitable citizens(?), there must surely be a solution to help this poor sole and child. Give me an appropriate and qualified advocate for Ms. Barner and I’ll give them a check for $1,000 to pay a baby sitter for Ms. Barner and call it Merry Christmas. It will probably do more good for me, than her.

  4. Yes I’m a single mother yes I know what I did was wrong . This is my first time getting locked up and charged with a felony and I’m going to fight for this charged being a single mother ain’t easy at all I just moved from Gwinnett to Fayetteville by myself . The officers were so rude and mean to me , when I was on the phone with my mom they listen to everything not they over heard they heard everything my mom stays in Texas

    • I too was a single mom for quite a few years. I worked 12 hour shifts. Never ever did I ever leave my child alone. If I just couldn’t find a sitter, I called out. Nothing and no one is worth the risk of leaving a child alone. There could be a fire, burglary, child abduction. You just don’t know. What if your child got scared and was crying for you??

      I know exactly what it is like to have to keep my job even with child care issues. But I’m sorry that’s no excuse to employers. Find a sitter…

      The police were not “mean” to you, I guarantee they were upset that a two year old was LEFT ALONE. At the jail, ALL phone calls are monitored AND recorded. It wasn’t just you that they did that too. It’s everyone. There is NO expectation of privacy in a jail.

      While I commend you to make it on your own with a child, please don’t ever make that mistake again. The consequences could be something beyond devastating.

      In Fayette County, they take anything with children very seriously. VERY. You can try to fight it, but you’d better have a very good attorney. But as an FYI…I would never want to go before a Fayette County judge with that type of charge.

  5. I feel sorry for Demetria. She’s probably a single mother that is trying to make a living and support herself and child. Unfortunately she left the child alone, which was a bad decision. Too bad a family member could’ve watched the little one, maybe the person she called from jail should’ve been the one watching her child. Just a sad situation, praying for her and her situation.