GREENFIELD — A man faces a neglect charge after a child left in his care was found wandering outside without a coat or shoes in freezing weather, records show.
Jens Engelund, 49, 8557 N. Deer Hill Drive, McCordsville, was arrested this week on a single count of neglect of a dependent as a Level 6 felony, court records show.
Neighbors called police in early December after spotting a 3-year-old boy — who police later learned had been left in Engelund’s care — walking alone in the Deer Crossing subdivision in McCordsville.
The boy was not wearing a coat or shoes when he was found, police said; the temperature outside was 30 degrees.
Engelund told investigators it wasn’t the first time the little boy had wandered away from his home, according to court documents. He told police he was asleep and hadn’t noticed the child was gone, court documents state.
Neighbors called 911 around 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 7 after they spotted a little boy wearing only a pair of red pajamas walking along the sidewalk alone, court documents state. The child had a soiled diaper and complained of being hungry, police said.
One woman told police she took the little boy into her home to keep warm while her husband knocked on doors nearby to see if anyone was looking for the child, court documents state. When no one answered, they called for help, she said.
The boy was taken to the McCordsville Police Department while officers contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services and began their investigation.
Police determined the boy was being cared for by Engelund after receiving a tip from another neighbor, according to court documents.
The child had wandered some 350 yards — around a four-minute walk — from Engelund’s home, court records state.
Engelund did not immediately answer the door when police arrived at his home to question him, officers said.
Police sought criminal charges against Engelund after determining the 3-year-old was without adult supervision for more than four hours, records show.
Engelund told investigators he woke up around 6 that morning and saw the boy but went back to sleep and still was asleep when officers arrived, according to court documents. He told officers the boy had wandered from the home on at least three other occasions, documents state.
Engelund is the second Hancock County resident to face a neglect allegation after a child left in their care wandered away.
In September, prosecutors filed a charge of neglect, a Level 6 felony, against Angel Pennington, 21, 5186 W. Blue Bell Drive in New Palestine, after the woman’s young girl left in her care was found wandering alone in her neighborhood.
Pennington told police she didn’t realize the child was gone but said she believed she walked out of the home after being put down for a nap. She thought the girl must have climbed out of her crib and walked out of the home while Pennington was asleep on the couch, police said.
Pennington’s case is pending in in Hancock County Superior Court I, records show.
Engelund was arrested Wednesday evening but released from jail early Thursday on $2,000 cash bond, officials said.
He appeared in Hancock Circuit Court Thursday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to the allegations. The charge he faces carries a maximum penalty of 2½ years in prison.