AUBURNDALE, Fla. — A former day care worker has been arrested for allegedly physically abusing toddlers. 

  • Former daycare worker charged with child abuse
  • Michelle Wilkerson yanked a child's arm and put hands over their mouths, police say
  • She is being held without bond

Michelle Wilkerson, 36, of Winter Haven is being held without bond, as this wasn’t the first time she was incarcerated. 

Court records indicate she was already out on bond in connection with a battery on a law enforcement officer charge when she went to work at the Little Bloodhound Preschool in Auburndale. The arrest affidavit from that prior incident indicates she was intoxicated and accused of trespassing in her ex-husband’s home. When police tried to remove her from the home, she allegedly hit the officer. 

Auburndale Police said earlier on the day of the incident, on April 27, 2019, she had applied to work at Little Bloodhound Preschool. 

She bonded out of jail and worked at the preschool, teaching the three-year-old classroom. 

On July 31, a foster parent called the Department of Children and Families and reported that their foster child had been abused. Auburndale detectives said they watched the surveillance video and saw Wilkerson allegedly physically abuse five children, ranging in age from two to four years old. 

School's director: "We did the FBI check."

We spoke to the grandmother of one of the alleged victims, who shared what she saw happen to her granddaughter on the video. 

“She was being slammed down in the chair," she told us. "She was being pulled across the room, held by one arm with her feet dangling on the ground. And they had her arm pulled up behind her back and her hand over her mouth, holding her mouth so she couldn’t cry. It made me sick.”

The grandmother said she wanted the daycare to be shut down and for Wilkerson to go to jail.

Meanwhile, the preschool's director, Michelle Ore, said they did a background check on Wilkerson.

“We did the FBI check. We did reference checks. This was not seen. People gave us good references on her. Nothing was on her background,” Ore said. 

Yet, on the Polk County Jail website, a list of prior arrests appear, mostly domestic violence battery charges that appear to be related to Wilkerson’s ex-husband.

“I’m devastated. I really am and the only reason I’m coming on is because I don’t want parents to think we’re hiding anything,” Ore said as she walked away from the camera in tears. “Because we’re not. We truly love our children. I can’t do this.”

Ore said Wilkerson was fired from the preschool the same day the incident was reported. 

We are still waiting to hear from the Department of Children and Families as to how Wilkerson was able to work in the preschool with such an extensive criminal record.



According to Auburndale police, Michelle Wilkerson was arrested and charged on Tuesday. (Polk County Jail)