2-year-old found wandering alone; mother didn’t want to call police, arrest report says

Police said they found the non-verbal toddler who they say was wearing only a dirty diaper in 50-degree weather.
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 12:29 PM EDT|Updated: May. 29, 2023 at 4:29 PM EDT
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MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WXIX/Gray News) - A Middletown woman whose 2-year-old son was found wandering in only a diaper Thursday morning says she did not want to call police when she noticed her toddler was missing because of a prior child neglect report, the arrest report says.

Middletown police officers were dispatched to the area around 5:30 a.m. after they received a report that a toddler was found on a woman’s porch.

When police arrived, they found the non-verbal toddler who they say was wearing only a dirty diaper in 50-degree weather, and his feet appeared to be dirty like he had been walking outside, the incident report said.

The report said the woman told officers she received a notification from her Ring doorbell, looked at the video, saw the toddler on her porch, brought him inside and called police.

A Middletown officer wrote in the incident report that they were unable to figure out where the 2-year-old lived, so they took the boy to the police department and contacted Butler County Children Services.

A Headstart employee called the Middletown Police Department after recognizing the toddler from a post on the department’s Facebook page and provided information about the boy’s mother, who police identified as Charlas Pendergraft, according to the incident report.

The officer’s report says dispatch tried to contact Pendergraft multiple times, and when she called back around 7 a.m., Pendergraft said she was not aware her son was missing.

Pendergraft then came to the police department and reportedly told officers that she and the 2-year-old were watching TV and later she realized he was missing. She and the boy’s father tried to find the toddler but were unable to locate him, according to the incident report.

“Charlas advised that she did not contact the police about her missing 2-year-old because in 2019 she had been issued a summons for endangering children due to her other son who had gotten out of the residence and was missing. She advised that she did not call because she did not want to get in trouble due to the prior incident,” the report said.

Pendergraft was arrested and booked into the Middletown City Jail for endangering children, police say.

Butler County Children Services placed the toddler with his biological father as well as three other juveniles who live in the home, the incident report said.