A 16-month-old Texas boy has been found safe after thieves stole an unattended vehicle he had been left sleeping in, while his parents face child abandonment charges.
The child had been outside a convenience store late Sunday night while his mother, 21-year-old Kimberley Cook and her boyfriend 29-year-old Anthony Blue were inside playing gambling machines.
Surveillance video from the store from earlier in the evening shows the pair with the child in the store playing the machines. They then left and returned at around 11:30 p.m. to continue playing, and left the child in an unlocked, running car in the parking lot outside to sleep.
The pair would periodically leave to check on the infant and around midnight discovered that the car had been stolen and alerted police.
Cook originally told deputies she and Blue left the child in the vehicle as it was running to enter the store, and when they walked back out it was gone, according to a statement from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies subsequently discovered that they had been playing so-called eight-liner gambling machines. Cook and Blue were subsequently charged with child endangerment.
The car was driven off by two men, identified by the Sheriff’s office as 19-year-old Vincent Leon Cannady and 18-year-old Jabari Jonathan Davis.
The pair left the infant in a nearby park where he was discovered shivering in his onesie by a ranger who was locking the park’s gates for the night. Houston police took the child to a local hospital as a precaution.
"It's pretty chilly out here and a lot of wild animals running around out there. Things could've ended very differently had the park ranger not come by here and located the baby," Kerry Clopton with HFD told ABC News affiliate KTRK. Police spotted the stolen car on the road around 1 a.m., and the suspects led officers on a chase, before finally stopping and being taken into custody.
Davis was charged with kidnapping, auto theft and felony evading. Cannady was charged with auto theft and kidnapping. Both of them were on deferred adjudication for previous felony offenses, KTRK reported.
According to KTRK the child’s maternal grandmother said that his name is Franklynn, but police have not confirmed his identity.