Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw filed a criminal case on Friday against the parent of a child who was found walking along a county road in western Greene County on August 9.
Frances J. Rooney, the mother of the two-year-old lost boy, will not be subject to arrest.
Rooney will receive a summons to appear in Greene Circuit Court on Sept. 4 for an initial hearing. At that time, she will be charged with neglect of a dependent involving the dependent being put in a situation that endangered the dependent's life or health -- a class D felony.
The incident has been under investigation since the child was found around noon on Friday, Aug. 9, and a call was made to 9-1-1 by an employee of Smithville Telephone, Tim Lewellyn.
Greene County Sheriff's Detective James O'Malley interviewed Lewellyn and reported Lewellyn said he saw the child walking west along County Road 200 South, alone and without any clothing. He stopped and attempted to make a call but did not have a signal, so he placed the child in his vehicle and drove west until he had a signal. At that point, Lewellyn made the call for help.
Officers from Sullivan County were dispatched to the scene but when they determined the child was actually found in Greene County, Greene County Sheriff's Deputy Dustin Cain was dispatched. An ambulance and emergency medical personnel were also on the scene and transported the child to Greene County General Hospital.
During his initial investigation, Cain contacted the Department of Child Services (DCS) and they sent two family case managers to the hospital to speak to Rooney.
Det. O'Malley reported that hospital records indicated the child had several insect bites, scratches and several areas of his body showed signs of a rash.
The boy was reunited with his family at the hospital and returned to their custody that evening.
According to the affidavit prepared by Det. O'Malley, Lewellyn found the child on the shoulder of the road approximately two-tenths of a mile east of the Greene-Sullivan County line on CR 200S. Lewellyn drove four-tenths of a mile to the entrance to Reservoir #29 where he placed the call at 11:57 a.m. A Sullivan County deputy arrived on the scene at 12:07 p.m.
In an interview with Rooney, she said she was in the process of cleaning the bathroom floor after a toilet had overflowed when she noticed her two-year-old was missing. Wearing a "pull-up" diaper, he had opened the front storm door and gone outside into the yard. She and 11-year-old and five-year-old daughters first searched the home then went outside and searched the yard. Rooney also has an infant, three-months-old. When she could not locate the boy, she went to the roadway where she sometimes takes walks with her children. While searching on the road, she found the boy's diaper, and she sent her children back to the house to retrieve her cell phone. The older children had been asked to stay at home to watch the infant, but they put the infant in a stroller, then pushing the stroller, went to help their mother in the search. She was searching on foot because she could not find the keys to the family's truck. When Scott Dudley drove by, Rooney flagged him down and asked him to help locate her son.
In O'Malley's interview with Dudley, he said he was driving to Linton between approximately 11:00-11:15 a.m. when Rooney flagged him down. Dudley said Rooney told him her son was missing and had probably walked down the roadway. He said she was clearly shaken and distressed and he helped her search along the road then left to go to his residence to put on long pants and boots to return to help search. When he got home, his wife told him the child had been found - the information came from his wife's uncle who had been listening to scanner traffic. Dudley told O'Malley he was not familiar with the Rooneys but had seen the mother, the children and the family dogs walking along the roadway on several occasions. He also said he had traveled the same road earlier in the day, between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. and had not seen anyone.
Rooney reportedly said when the children returned with her cell phone, she called 9-1-1 and the operator told her they had found her son. She also said Dudley returned and told her the child had been located.
O'Malley reported there were several bodies of water and extreme terrain between the area surrounding the Rooney residence and the location where the child was found and it was likely the child traveled the roadway -- a distance of 1.6 miles.
O'Malley wrote that the child's life and health were at risk while walking unsupervised on a road in an area containing many bodies of water.