Amber Christine Chapman, 35, is the Florida babysitter accused of abusing the 4-year-old boy she was watching. The little boy told officers “Miss Amber” put him in the dryer and turned it on, according to a police affidavit.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Boy Was Taken to the Emergency Room With Bruising On His Back, Face & Head
Chapman regularly cared for the little boy involved in the incident. According to the probable cause affidavit, she “frequently” watched him while his parents were at work.
The affidavit states the 4-year-old child was taken to the emergency room at UF Health Leesburg Hospital on February 1. His injuries included “soft tissue swelling of the occipital area, grape-sized bilaterally as well as minor bruising to both ears, a large bruise to the right scapula about five centimeters diameter and a seven-centimeter bruise to the right perispinal lumbar area.”
While in the emergency room, the boy told the medical staff “Miss Amber” had “put him in the dryer with towels and he spun around.” Officials with the Children’s Advocacy Center further evaluated his injuries the following day. More detailed specifics of his injuries were blacked out in the affidavit to protect the victim’s privacy.
The agency concluded they were “unable to determine if being placed in a dryer caused these injuries but the severity of the injuries and the locations of the injuries on the back, face, forehead and ears are consistent with being inflicted by the same.”
2. The Child Told an Investigator His Babysitter Put Him in the Dryer & He Spun ‘Round & Round’
A detective with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office then interviewed the child at his home on February 7. The boy repeated to the detective that his babysitter had “placed him in a dryer, closed the door and he ‘went round and round,'” according to the probable cause affidavit.
The child said Chapman “opened the door, closed it again, and he ‘went round and round.'”
Law enforcement decided to charge Chapman with aggravated child abuse, which is a first-degree felony. According to the arrest affidavit, deputies arrested Chapman at her home in Eustis, Florida, on April 9 “without incident.”
3. Chapman Was Released Within Hours of Her Arrest & Ordered to Stay Away From the Victim
Deputies arrested Chapman around 3:15 a.m. on April 9, according to the arrest affidavit and Lake County Sheriff’s Office inmate records. She spent about 13 hours behind bars before she was released at 5 p.m.
The inmate record shows bond was set at $15,000 and that the bond was fulfilled. However, a separate court document shows Chapman did not pay any money.
She filed for “criminal indigent status,” meaning she could not afford her own attorney and would need a court-appointed public defender. The document states Chapman was released on bail in the amount of “0” dollars.
A judge also ordered Chapman to stay at least 500 feet away from the child involved in the case, according to the no-contact order. She is also barred from communicating with the boy in any way.
4. Chapman Has 4 ‘Dependents’ & No Income, According to a Court Document
According to the “indigent status” court document, Chapman does not have a job. She listed her take-home income as zero and checked that she received “temporary assistance for needy families.”
The document also shows Chapman has 4 “dependents.” A search of online records brings up an Amber Christine Hodge Chapman, with the same birthday and address as the defendant, who is married with 4 children. Her mother’s Facebook page also references the defendant’s birthday, children and husband. A separate 2014 case provides further evidence that this is the same person (more on that below).
A search of public records on the Lake County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller website also brings up a marriage certificate dated March 1, 2014, between Amber Christine Hodge and Stephen Chapman.
5. Chapman & Her Husband Were Arrested in 2014 After Police Said They Committed Fraud to Obtain Prescription Drugs
Online court records from Lake County, Florida, reveal a 2014 case against Amber Christine Hodge, again with the same birthday as the woman accused of putting the little boy in the dryer. According to the probable cause affidavit, she and her husband were arrested in July 2014 at a Walgreens in Eustis, Florida.
The couple was accused of fraudulently obtaining the prescription hydrocodone. She told detectives her husband “has a problem,” started using the drug after getting out of the Army, and that she had called in the fraudulent prescription at least 13 times.
Court records show Hodge Chapman pleaded “no contest” to charges including possession of hydrocodone, fraudulent use of personal identification information, and unlawful acquisition/attempt to acquire possession of a controlled substance by fraud.” She was sentenced to 3 years probation.