MCCORDSVILLE – A father, whose young son twice wandered away from his family’s McCordsville home, will spend a year on probation as punishment for neglecting the child, a judge ruled.
Jens-Peter Engelund, 49, appeared in court recently to answer to two criminal cases filed against him, each alleging he put his toddler in danger.
Charges were first filed against Engelund in January after his neighbors called 911 when they found the man’s son wandering outside in freezing weather without a coat or shoes, according to court documents. Prosecutors eventually decided to dismiss the single Level 6 felony count Engelund faced in that case, with Engelund promising to take parenting classes and abide by any other rules set by the Indiana Department of Child Services.
But less than a month later, in April, neighbors again found the toddler wandering alone in the subdivision, this time wearing only a diaper, according to court documents, and a new criminal case was filed against the man.
Engelund appeared in court recently and pleaded guilty to the Level 6 felony count of neglect of a dependent that was filed against him after the incident in April. At the same time, prosecutors announced they would uphold their decision to dismiss the original charge because Engelund had upheld his end of that bargain and complied with state officials, they said.
Engelund’s guilty plea came as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that called for the man to spend a year on probation — time Engelund will serve in Pennsylvania, where his family recently moved.
Before sentencing Engelund to probation, Judge Richard Culver asked the defendant what he had done to ensure nothing like this happened again.
Engelund said he and his wife have installed additional locks on the doors in their McCordsville home and will do the same in Pennsylvania. Engelund also told the judge he’d taken steps to better deal with his sleep apnea.
After each incident in McCordsville, Engelund told police he had been asleep and didn’t know how the boy managed to get out of the house. He told the judge during his sentencing hearing the white noise from the sleep machine he uses each night made it difficult for him to hear.
Investigators said after each incident that Engelund’s son likely had gone unsupervised for hours while his father slept, according to court documents.
Culver encouraged Engelund to rely on family, friends or neighbors if he needs help caring for a child. Their safety, Culver said, was of the utmost importance, and Engelund needed to ensure they were well cared for even if that meant dividing the responsibility with others.