McCORDSVILLE — Less than a month after prosecutors agreed to dismiss a neglect charge against a McCordsville father, the man’s toddler was found wandering the neighborhood, unattended, again, police said.
It’s the second time in four months law enforcement has accused 49-year-old Jens-Peter Engelund, 8557 N. Deer Hill Drive, of putting the toddler in danger by leaving him unsupervised for hours at time.
The latest case was filed after neighbors called 911 one afternoon in late April; they found Engelund’s young son wandering alone in the subdivision, wearing only a diaper, according to court documents. When police questioned him, Engelund said he’d fallen asleep around midnight, hadn’t yet gotten out of bed that day, and he assumed the child was still asleep in his own bedroom, court documents state.
The toddler was found around 2:30 p.m., leading investigators to believe he’d been unsupervised for nearly 13 hours, court documents state.
Engelund told police something similar in December when the same child was found by neighbors, wandering outside in freezing weather without a coat or shoes, according to court documents.
At that time, Engelund was arrested and charged with a Level 6 felony count of neglect of a dependent. He told police he was suffering from a disorder that required him to use a sleep aid. That admittance, along with Engelund’s lack of criminal history and willingness to cooperate with the Indiana Department of Child Services, led prosecutors to agree last month to dismiss the original criminal case.
Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said dismissing the original case against Engelund was the right decision at the time. Engelund had taken steps to ensure the boy couldn’t get out again – like child-proofing the locks to the exteriors doors of his home, according to police – and he’d agreed to take further steps to prevent the child wandering out again, Eaton said.
Now, prosecutors have reopened Engelund’s original case, saying the man violated the plea agreement by once again putting the child in danger. They’ve also filed a new criminal case based on the latest allegations, records show.
Now, Engelund faces one Level 6 felony count of neglect of a dependent stemming from the incident in April in addition to the Level 6 felony count of neglect of a dependent from the incident in December.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 2.5 years in prison.
Officers recognized the child in April when neighbors called, saying they’d found a boy who complained of being hungry and was unattended.
They brought him back to Engelund’s home; there, they found a back sliding door ajar. After knocks and shouts inside went unanswered, officers entered the house and woke Engelund, who was still asleep in his bedroom, court records state.
Eaton said Engelund does have a medical condition that affects his sleep, but it can’t be an excuse.
“We don’t want to punish people for being ill, but we’ve got to protect the public,” he said. “We take the welfare and safety of children in this community seriously.”
A warrant for Engelund’s arrest is pending, court records show; he had not been arrested at press time. An attorney has not yet been assigned to his new case.
Engelund had been represented by Holly Lyons in his original case. She did not return a request for comment.