Children abandoned; mother arrested for marijuana

By Amanda Porterfield |, Scott Andresen

Published 03/26 2014 12:14PM

Updated 03/27 2014 01:29PM

Update: 10:05 pm, 3/26/14, Wednesday
COLES COUNTY -- These parents say when their daughter got into a bad situation, she took them to what she thought was a safe haven. Shawna Leonetti is accused of abandoning her children at a Charleston Fire Department. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield speaks with her mother.

Leonetti's parents aren't making excuses for their daughter, but say it's important people know, at the time, she thought she was doing the right thing.

"You can look at her Facebook page and see what kind of a mom she's been."

Candace Leonetti says the hundreds of photos of her daughter cuddles with her two children is the real Shawna Leonetti; not the person in the mugshot.

"I think, sometimes, you can get hooked up with the wrong people and the wrong things and they'll change your life in a second."

Leonetti says her daughter wasn't in her right mind and she knew it. That's why she dropped her 3- and 5-year olds off at Fire Station Two and left to go get help.

"Obviously, she wasn't thinking clear at the moment, saw the Safe Haven sign at the fire department and tried to call me a few times; couldn't reach me, so she took the children there and asked if it was okay if she left them there until I picked them up. They said, 'Yes.'"

Shawna Leonetti came back after law enforcement called her and when they found a small amount of marijuana on her, she was arrested. But, Leonetti's parents say she didn't leave to go get drugs, she needed help.

"I think, at that moment, she did what she thought was best for her children to be safe. That's truly what she was thinking at that moment. She also did what she thought she could do under the law at that moment because of the sign."

She's talking about the Safe Haven sign posted right on the door, but the Safe Haven Law only allows children 30 days or younger to be dropped off at a fire station. Officials at the fire department say they allowed the children to come in because their goal is public safety. Leonetti's parents say they feel the law is unclear.

"My daughter is a wonderful person. She obviously wasn't thinking clearly at the moment, but made the best decision for the safety of her children at that moment."

Leonetti's parents didn't want to go into specifics, but say she's getting help for her problems.
Original: 10:07 pm, 3/25/14, Tuesday
COLES COUNTY -- A Clark County woman was arrested for possession of marijuana after abandoning her two children. 30-year old Shawna Leonetti, of Westfield, reportedly left her 3- and 5-year old children at a Charleston Fire Station Monday.

Police convinced her to return and, when she did, authorities say she had 2.5 grams of marijuana on her. The children are now in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

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