A 3-year-old Louisiana boy was discovered shivering in the woods on Friday, Dec. 15, after a massive five-hour effort by police, horseback riders, volunteers and a helicopter.
“He was freezing cold and said he wanted to go home and he was hungry,” Tanya Bankston, a volunteer who responded after seeing a Facebook post, told Miami Herald.
“He was scared as his feet were blood-red swollen,” Bankston added. “He had on shorts and a T-shirt and no shoes on.”
It was not the first time the same boy went missing this week, according to Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard.
“This is actually the third time this has happened this week. And, each time he had to be located,” Ard wrote on Facebook. “One time, he was found at a neighbor’s home. Just last night, he was found in the wooded area surrounding the home.”
“Through negligence, he was outside today for hours fending for himself while inappropriately dressed for this colder weather,” Ard added.
Sheldon Baker was found scratched up and wearing only cut-off jeans and a white shirt in mid-40 degree weather. The boy was airlifted to a hospital as a precaution and placed in protective custody.
Meanwhile, his parents, Sylvia Baker, 37, and Shane Baker, 40, were arrested on desertion and drug charges. Investigators who searched their home on Friday found marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
The deputies were called to the family’s home on Jack Perry Rd. in Independence, Louisiana, shortly after noon on Friday. Volunteers and first responders from several agencies aided in the search effort. Ard thanked all involved for their help.
Independence is about 60 miles northwest of New Orleans.
Some people who heard about the boy’s third disappearance criticized the parents, while others hoped they get the help they need to take proper care of their child.
“The first time can be written off as an accident, but three times in one week just screams child neglect!” Haley Corkern Peters wrote on Facebook.
“I hope they receive the help they need and if they want to improve their lives to get their child back, I wish them all the best,” Mia L. Jewell wrote on Facebook.