‘She always comes back.’ Mom leaves son at McDonald’s so she can gamble, Ariz. cops say

Stacy Rupp
Stacy Rupp Peoria Police Department

When McDonald’s employees noticed an unattended 9-year-old boy they described as dirty and disheveled at 11 p.m. Wednesday, they called Arizona police, KNXV reported.

The boy told officers that his mother had dropped him off earlier that night to play at the Peoria eatery’s playground while she visited a friend and gambled at Desert Diamond Casino in nearby Glendale, KTVK reported.

“She always comes back,” the boy told police, Yahoo reported. McDonald’s employees gave the boy ice cream, cookies and a coloring book.

Stacy Rupp, 34, later returned to the McDonald’s for her child, KPNX reported. She initially told police she’d been grocery shopping, but security videos showed her at the casino between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., officers said.

Rupp later told police she’d “messed up,” Yahoo reported.

She had dropped her son off outside the McDonald’s without a cell phone or other way to communicate with her in an emergency, KNXV reported.

“He drives me crazy and steals my money,” Rupp told police about her son, KTVK reported. She faces charges of child abuse and endangering the life or health of a minor.

On Friday, Rupp tearfully pleaded with a judge not to bar her from seeing her son while she awaits her next court date, KPNX reported.

“He’s mama’s boy,” Rupp said in a court video, KTVK reported. “I’m not away from him. It’s gonna be detrimental, I think, to my son.”

The judge allowed her to have contact with her son before she returns to court, Yahoo reported.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.