Toddler Used In Solicitation Scam, Police Say

Witnesses: 2-Year-Old Girl Kept Outside As Parents Beg For Money

The parents of a 2-year-old girl were arrested Sunday evening after witnesses reported seeing a man and the child standing in the heat for at least two hours as he solicited motorists for money.

Indianapolis police were called to a Hardees restaurant near the intersection of Emerson Avenue and Thompson Road at about 8 p.m.

Witnesses told police that the man, identified as Jacob Cotton, 36, of Bloomington, was standing in the parking lot with the child and was holding a hand-made sign that asked for gas money.

A witness told police that the man and girl had been standing at the intersection for at least two hours and that she called police because the girl appeared to be suffering from heat exhaustion.

According to a police report, the girl had a very red face, was upset and way lying on the ground when an officer approached.

"It makes you angry that someone would do such a thing," said Indianapolis police Lt. Jeff Duhamell. "The complainants had been advising that the child looked basically overcome with the heat."

Cotton told police that he had only been there for about 15 minutes and was "going to take her inside in a little bit after he got some money," the police report stated.

An ambulance was called to the scene to check the child's health. She was treated for heat-related illness.

The same witness told police that she saw the same child with a woman outside a Walmart store also with a sign asking for money earlier in the day.

Police said Cotton told officers that the child's mother, later identified as Lindsay Ramon, 23, of Ellettsville, had money stolen from her purse and that they were trying to obtain cash to buy gas to return to Bloomington.

Ramon was still at the Walmart, Cotton told police, but she returned while officers were at the scene. Cotton didn't respond when asked why the child wasn't with her mother in the air-conditioned store.

Ramon told officers that she hadn't been soliciting at Walmart and that she had just started working at a strip club in Indianapolis, police said.

Officers said they found $93 on her, which would have been enough for gas, and that she admitted being a previous heroin user but "hadn't used in a few weeks," according to the police report.

Cotton and Ramon were arrested on charges of child neglect. The girl was placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.