GREENFIELD — Prosecutors have agreed to drop the neglect charge against a McCordsville man whose son was found wandering outside in freezing weather late last year, records show.
Instead, Jens-Peter Engelund, 8557 N. Deer Hill Drive, will take a “behavior modification” course — which officials said could entail parenting classes or drug counseling, according to an agreement with prosecutors.
Engelund recently admitted -– without pleading guilty to a crime –- that he neglected the 3-year-old boy, who was found wandering through Engelund’s McCordsville neighborhood without shoes or a coat in December when temperatures were below 30 degrees, according to court documents.
Engelund told investigators he was using a sleep aid when the boy got out of the house, records state.
Prosecutors filed a Level 6 felony count of neglect of a dependent against Engelund in late 2016, and he was arrested in January. Now, they’ve agreed to dismiss that charge as long as Engelund does not commit another crime in the next year, court records state.
Prosecutors say they worked with the Indiana Department of Child Services to decide about how to handle Engelund’s case. DCS officials — who were called immediately after the child was found — determined it is safe for Engelund to continue caring for the little boy, so they opted to excuse the criminal allegations, prosecutors said.
DCS workers will continue to meet with Engelund and will make the final determination on what courses he will need to complete, prosecutors said.
A hearing will be held next April to determine if Engelund has upheld his end of the bargain. If prosecutors determine he has, they will dismiss the criminal charge, the document states.
Neighbors called 911 on Dec. 7 after the boy was spotted walking along the sidewalk in the Deer Crossing subdivision in McCordsville, court documents state. The child was wearing only a pair of red pajamas, had a soiled diaper and complained of being hungry, officials said.
One neighbor told police she brought the child into her home while her husband knocked on front doors nearby to see if anyone was looking for the child, court documents state. When no one answered, they called police for help, court documents state.
Investigators found 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; but detectives believe the boy was alone for more than four hours, according to court documents.
Engelund told police he woke up around 6 a.m. that morning and saw the boy but went back to sleep and still was asleep when officers came to his home around 11:30 a.m. to question him, according to court documents.
The boy was turned over to the Department of Child Services at that time, but Engelund has regained custody, officials said.
Engelund’s attorney, Holly Lyons of Greenfield, declined to comment on the agreement.