At the time, Salem police tried to file a report of suspected child abuse with the Department of Children and Families, but they were told that they cannot do so for a pregnant woman.
Then, on Sunday, Salem police responded to three calls about Douglas and arrested her twice.
The first call came around 10 a.m., when police and an ambulance were called to the front of the Salem Five branch next to CVS at 426 Essex St. Douglas, visibly pregnant, was taken to Salem Hospital, then released.
Two hours later, police were called back to the same plaza on Essex Street after a customer saw Douglas outside the store, appearing to need medical help. When Patrolman DeeJay Gagnon arrived, he saw Douglas sitting on the ground outside, “staring into space,” said prosecutor Lars Trautman.
Then he heard hissing.
Gagnon took the can away from her and arrested her again on charges of shoplifting and inhaling vapors.
After making bail, Douglas left the station and, police believe, made her way to Wal-Mart. She was found outside of the adjacent Special Thoughts store shortly after 5 p.m., again clutching a can of compressed air.
At the police station, Douglas was placed in a cell, where she retrieved another can of air from under her belly and began inhaling from it until police could get inside and take it from her, according to a police report.
Douglas is due to give birth on Friday. But police were told that they cannot charge her with child endangerment, said Salem police spokesman Lt. Conrad Prosniewski.
Prosecutors, concerned not only for her well-being but that of her unborn child, moved to revoke her release in the earlier cases, suggesting that jail may be the only way to stop her from abusing inhalants.
It’s not optimal, said Trautman, the prosecutor. But Douglas “has shown a disregard not only for the laws of the commonwealth but for the safety of her unborn child.”