Sheriff says the mother left the child alone to spend time with friends and watch a movie.
An area woman and her daughter found a toddler dressed only in a diaper in the 14,000 block of Pleasant Valley Road at 8:51pm Thursday.
WKKJ announcer Christina Wolford and her daughter were leaving the Cavalier Skating Rink and heard the child crying across the street and standing in a yard. Thinking the parents were probably on the porch, they continued walking toward their car until they noticed all that baby had on was a diaper. Crossing the street to see if there were any adults present they heard the child crying and shivering.
When the child saw the pair, he walked up to them, where they put a jacket on the child and began yelling to try and gain a response from inside the home, but to no avail. They called the sheriff department at that point. Two neighbors came out of their homes and neither of them knew the child. They asked the child his name but could not understand his response. They then asked him where his mommy was and he said, "I don't know." They then asked, "Is that your house?" and pointed to the home he was closest to, but he did not respond.
The deputy arrived a few minutes later and knocked on doors but got no answer. He called a squad to come check the child for any injuries or exposure (it was 39 degrees).
Children's Services was called to take custody of the child, which was a male, approximately two-years-old. The child had no shoes or clothing, except for an extremely soiled diaper.
Ross County Sheriff George Lavender said Friday morning that the child's parents have been identified and charged with child endangering. They are 25-year-old Christine Buckalew and 23-year-old Douglas Botts.
Lavender told Clear Channel News the mother says they left the child alone "to go to a friends home to watch movies." Buckalew claims she "had been under stress lately and made a poor decision."
Buckalew and Botts were arrainged in Municipal Court, Friday. They have pleaded not guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor of child endangering and were released on their own recognizance.
A pre-trial hearing is set for April 9th at 1:30pm, and both will be represented by a public defender.
(L to R: Buckalew and Botts, photos from the Ross County Sheriff's Office)