A 3-year-old boy was found dead in a Mississippi pond on Friday, leading authorities to charge his mother and her boyfriend with murder in connection with the child’s death, WLBT-TV reports.
Police first began investigating around 9:30 a.m., when a woman called 911 to report that she had encountered a 5-year-old boy at her home. The child, who has special needs and was non-verbal, did not communicate where he lived.
Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded and located the boy’s mother after about an hour of going door to door.
Police allege that the mother, 25-year-old Brooke Mallet, and her boyfriend, 22-year-old John Walker, did not know that the boy had left the home.
“They were not aware that the child was missing,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said during a news conference on Friday, according to the Vicksburg Daily News.
Upon speaking with Mallet, officers determined that a 3-year-old boy also was missing from the same residence. All available Warren County deputies and officers from the Vicksburg Police Department began searching for the child. Drones were deployed as part of the effort.
During that search, police found the 3-year-old in a pond. Despite administering CPR, the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
The pond was located several hundred yards from the home and across a highway.
Mallet and Walker have been charged with murder and are being held without bond. However, Pace said the charge does not mean that the pair intended to kill the boy, but rather that their alleged failure to act caused the death.
“This does not indicate at this point that they deliberately killed the child, but their actions or inaction created the situation that created the death,” Pace told reporters, adding that the investigation is still ongoing.
Pace said it appeared the boys were out of the home “for hours” without the adults realizing it.
“A very tragic situation,” he said.
The 5-year-old boy is in the care of child welfare officials.
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[Featured Photos: Warren County Sheriff’s Office]