Atlanta mother arrested after abandoning special needs teen son at hospital

A woman left her special needs teen son alone at a hospital in Atlanta and is now under arrest, police say

Diana Elliott (Fulton County Sheriff's Office via AP)

An Atlanta mother was taken into custody one week after authorities believe she abandoned her 14-year-old son with special needs at a local hospital.

According to the Daily Mail, officials say surveillance video clearly shows Diana Elliott walking into Grady Memorial Hospital with her son Sheldon Linden on the night of Dec. 4 but then leaving the facility alone.

The boy, who could not speak and appeared to be malnourished, was left unsupervised for hours until a nurse on duty noticed the boy sitting alone outside the hospital.

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Although he had no identification, after police released a photo of Sheldon along with a screengrab from the surveillance footage, members from the public helped authorities to identify him and his mother.

On Wednesday, Elliott, 37, was arrested after police found her at a DeKalb County hotel with her three other children. Police say she confessed to investigators that she was overwhelmed with the task of caring for Sheldon in addition to her other children.

Sheldon is in the custody of Georgia’s Division of Family and Child Services while his mother has been booked into Fulton County jail on charges of cruelty to children in the first degree.

“It’s rare that you see somebody older than a newborn being abandoned — it’s very rare,” Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos told NBC News.

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“Our message is that we definitely understand that parents can feel overwhelmed by special-needs children – that’s something that everyone can empathize with,” he continued. “But leaving them unattended is not the proper solution. The child was found outside, cold and hungry, and that’s just not an appropriate way to deal with something like this.”