By Jo-Anne MacKenzie
SALEM — Two young children are in state custody after their parents and a second man were arrested on multiple charges Sunday afternoon.
It started as a shoplifting report from Target at 205 S. Broadway and ended in three arrests on multiple drug, child endangerment, theft and other charges.
When police responded to South Broadway for the reported theft of seven cans of baby formula, they found more than anticipated.
Officers located the suspects' car in the nearby Kmart parking lot. Inside, an 18-month-old girl and her 3-year-old sister were in unsecured car seats, an open 24-ounce can of Natty Daddy beer and a syringe loaded with heroin on the seat next to them, police said.
The girls' parents, Jose Ramos, 38, and Ashley Baga, 24, both of Nashua, both face two charges of endangering the welfare of a child.
Ramos also faces theft and driving after revocation charges.
Baga also is charged with criminal liability for the conduct of another and a felony drug charge for possession of Suboxone, lorazepam and clonazepam. Police said they found a screw-top container attached to Baga's keychain that contained an assortment of pills.
Francis Sarson, 49, also of Nashua, also is charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, willful concealment, open container (for the beer can) and felony possession of heroin.
Sarson was in the backseat with the two children, the beer and the syringe, Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said.
Sarson went in to Target with a diaper bag and loaded it with seven cans of formula, Patten said, while Baga acted as the lookout. Ramos then left the store with the bag and formula, valued at $100, he said.
Target employees told police they saw two children in the blue Honda as it left the lot.
While the three adults were being processed, police dispatchers cleaned up the little girls and fed them, Patten said.
"Everybody pulled together on a busy night to make sure the kids were comfortable and safe," he said.
Officials from the state Division for Children, Youth and Families were contacted and the children were taken to a foster home, he said.
"This is not the first time it has happened," he said of the state taking custody of children after their parents' arrest.
But it is unusual, he said, that another family member can't be found to take temporary custody of the children.
"It's unfortunate. Usually, we can get family members to take care of the kids," he said. "But, this time, the only person we could reach was a grandmother, who showed up three or four hours later, by which time DCYF was already involved."
The three adults were held overnight pending their arraignment in 10th Circuit Court in Salem. Ramos and Sarson were still listed as residents of the county jail yesterday afternoon. No information was available on Baga's whereabouts.
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