Man admits to leaving 5-month-old baby boy in woods alone, buried under sticks and dirt for hours while wet and freezing: Report

A Montana man accused of leaving a 5-month-old baby in the woods while high on meth changed his plea Tuesday morning at the Missoula District Court and admitted to criminal endangerment and child criminal endangerment.

The Missoulian reports that Francis Carlton Crowley, 33, dropped the 5-month-old baby in the woods last July, in the Lolo Hot Springs area. Residents in the area called police after noticing a man acting strange, yelling at people, and claiming he had a gun.

When police arrived, they found Crowley, who said his car crashed. Crowley admitted that he left the baby in the woods “because he was too heavy” to carry while searching for help. The Missoula County Search and Rescue, United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Montana Highway Patrol joined in to help search for the boy, and found him around 2:30 a.m., buried under debris and sticks.

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Francis Carlton Crowley [Police Handout]
Police said Crowley “appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was not making sense to officers,” as CrimeOnline previously reported. Crowley later reportedly admitted he had taken meth and bath salts. Authorities tested the baby’s hair for drugs, which came back positive for meth.

Authorities saw the baby’s arms sticking up from the debris and pulled him to safety. They called the little boy a “miracle baby” for surviving the harsh conditions. He was found wet and freezing, wearing only a “wet and solid” onesie. The temperatures dropped to 46 degrees during the early morning hours, according to Missoula County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Brenda Bassett. The baby was alone for at least nine hours.

Members of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office were called out last night at approximately 8pm for a male suspect who…

Posted by Missoula County Sheriff's Office on Sunday, July 8, 2018


“For all of us at the sheriff’s office, this is what we call a miracle,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “For the officers who were present for this event, it’s especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours. Sheriff McDermott would like to thank those who assisted in the search and those who called 911, helping first responders bring this baby to safety.”

According to Oregon Live, Crowley is  the infant’s uncle, and the infant’s mother is Crowley’s sister. The baby and his mother were allegedly reported missing in June to Oregon State Police, but were said to be found weeks prior to Crowley’s crash. The mother was not charged in the incident.

Crowley also pleaded no contest to one count of assault on a child. His sentencing is scheduled for March 12.

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[Feature Photo: Missoula County Sheriff’s Office]

*Editor’s Note*: Story updated to reflect that Crowley is not the baby’s father, as previously reported.