UPDATE: Wanted daycare worker turns herself in

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VALDOSTA – A former daycare worker sought by police turned herself in Wednesday in a cruelty case that led to the closure of two child care facilities in Valdosta and the arrest of the owners, police said.

Emmer Jean Thomas, 57, of Valdosta was sent to the Lowndes County Jail after turning herself in at police headquarters, according to a statement from the Valdosta Police Department. The warrant against her was for cruelty to children 1st degree, a felony.

Police said an incident occurred Jan. 14 at the Tickle Me Pink Daycare and Learning Center, 252 North St. Augustine Road, involving a daycare worker and a two-year-old child and was not reported to authorities until two weeks later. The former employee was accused of physically assaulting the two-year-old, and police said the daycare owners were told of the incident and failed to notify the child's parents or authorities.

Pamela Carter, one of the owners, was charged with felony false statement, felony tampering with evidence and misdemeanor failure to report child abuse, while Brent Carter, the other owner, was charged with felony tampering with evidence and misdemeanor failure to report child abuse, police said. 

The Valdosta Police Department worked in tandem with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning in investigating issues with the daycare. The department issued emergency closure orders against the St. Augustine Road daycare and its sister business, Tickle Me Pink Academy on Kelly Drive.

Pamela Carter served on the early care and learning department's 2017 Quality Rated Advisory Committee, according to a state government website.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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