A Lawnside woman who left her children in the backseat of her SUV with the engine running was charged with neglect Wednesday, four days after a thief stole the vehicle and crashed it while the frightened children were inside, police said.

Kyna C. Garnett, 32, also was charged with one count of fourth-degree abuse, Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo announced in a news release Wednesday. The thief stole the vehicle about 30 seconds after Garnett went inside Colombo Liquors in Magnolia around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, authorities said.

Garnett's 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son suffered "minor scrapes and bruises" in the incident, police said, noting they were secured in their seats when the Chevrolet Traverse flipped when the thief struck another SUV and then the brick steps of a house in Audubon.

"He's a bad man, he's a bad man," the boy told police excitedly when they arrived at the accident scene, according to Audubon Detective Tim Stillman. A dispatcher, who had also been notified of the kidnapping by the mother, asked the patrolman whether two children were in the backseat of the SUV and connected the dots, Stillman said. Garnett was taken to the scene, a few miles from the liquor store, and accompanied them to Cooper University Hospital to be checked.

Police charged Christopher R. Dumas, 38, of Paulsboro, with several counts of kidnapping, endangering the welfare of a child, aggravated assault, theft, eluding police, and motor vehicle violations. Dumas, who also was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital, was transported to the Camden County Jail. He is being held on $618,000 bail.

According to a court website, he has been convicted of more than 40 charges of theft, robbery, burglary, assault, and obstruction.

Stillman said that after Dumas stole the SUV, he sped down White Horse Pike for several miles and then ran through four stop signs on side streets before hitting a Suzuki on Merchant Street. The driver of that vehicle, a 48-year-old Mount Ephraim woman, was knocked unconscious and suffered broken bones in her leg, Stillman said.

During the investigation, detectives reviewed surveillance footage of the theft from area business cameras. Police said the footage shows Garnett was in the liquor store for several minutes. After she was charged Wednesday, she was released on her own recognizance.


856-779-3224 @JanHefler