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Wandering child leads to charges against couple

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

Police said they arrested a couple last week at a Lincolnton hotel for alleged drug use and child abuse.
Lincolnton Police Detective Mark Sain said officers were drawn to the Comfort Inn in Lincolnton Thursday after spotting a 2-year-old boy wandering in the parking lot.
Both Karen Cox Peeler, 41, of 4115 Story Road in Newton, and Barry Eugene Peeler, 47, of 1501 N.C. 73 in Iron Station, were charged in the case after detectives searched their hotel room and found drug paraphernalia, Sain said.
According to a police report, the toddler had cuts on his feet and bug bites covering his body.
In addition, officers found old milk in the hotel room and no additional diapers.
The child has since been handed over to the Department of Social Services, detectives said.
Each suspect has been charged with one count of child abuse and possession of drug paraphernalia. Barry Peeler faces an additional charge for a domestic violence protective order violation, a report said.
According to the North Carolina Department of Correction website, Barry Peeler has an extensive criminal record including more than seven years behind bars for robbery with a dangerous weapon in Mecklenburg County a decade ago.
He was additionally convicted in 2003 with felony larceny, embezzlement and uttering a forged instrument in Lincoln County.
Karen Peeler has since been released on a $20,000 secured bond while Barry Peeler remains in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $20,000 secured bond.

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