Baby missing in Florida; parents charged with child neglect

AP News
|
Posted: Oct 08, 2015 3:13 PM
Baby missing in Florida; parents charged with child neglect

Detectives in Florida say they're trying to figure out the whereabouts of a 9-week-old baby as his parents are being held in a jail in South Carolina awaiting extradition on child neglect charges.

"We're trying to be optimistic that the child is still alive," Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said.

Officials say Chance Walsh has been missing since Sept. 9. Authorities say they became involved when Chance's grandmother called them Oct. 4, concerned about the baby's well-being.

A multistate investigation followed.

According to the arrest documents, the parents gave conflicting accounts of what happened to Chance, telling one person he was killed in a car accident and another that they gave him to a stranger they met in a Georgia motel.

"We're looking for the baby everywhere," he said Thursday. "There are two people who know where the baby is."

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office charged 36-year-old Joseph Walsh and 32-year-old Kristen Bury with child neglect. They were booked into jail in South Carolina on Tuesday. It was unclear whether they had retained an attorney who could be contacted for comment on the case.

Officials say that investigators found blood spatter inside their Florida home and that cadaver dogs keyed in on a scent near the front door.

Officials also say Knight said Walsh and Bury are known drug users who left Florida sometime in September. They traveled north through Georgia, attempting to sell baby items at a Red Carpet Inn in Georgia on Sept. 28 and 30, officials said. And authorities report that someone at the hotel told them Bury said her baby had died three weeks earlier.

The couple landed in South Carolina, where one of them applied for a job, officials said. On Oct. 2, they were involved in a car crash in Hardeeville, S.C., and they didn't have the baby with them at the time, officials said. Detectives also talked to others who reported seeing the couple in South Carolina and Georgia, and those witnesses didn't recall a baby.

Officials also said that Walsh and Bury had another child who died last year, but they aren't releasing more details on that, nor would they say whether detectives are scrutinizing that case.

"Our focus is on Chance," Knight said.

The FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are helping with the investigation.

___

Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tamaralush