July 13, 2012

Waterville dad charged after toddler son found wandering in street ... again

BY BEN MCCANNA Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- A father has been summoned after his 2-year-old son was found wandering the city streets alone for the second time this year.

Vance Gray, 30, of 11 Hathaway St., was charged Thursday morning for allegedly endangering a child's welfare.

About 11 a.m. Thursday, police received a complaint of a toddler walking unattended at the corner of Front and Leighton streets -- a high traffic area in downtown, Sgt. Dan Goss said.

At the scene, officer Galen Estes recognized the boy from a similar incident in April. Estes went to the nearby apartment where the boy lives and knocked on the door, but no one answered, Goss said.

"Due to the circumstances, we felt it was necessary to make entry into the apartment for the safety and welfare of the children," Goss said.

Inside, police found a 6-month-old baby bundled in blankets and sleeping alone on the living room floor, Goss said.

Upstairs, police found Gray, who was also sleeping.

"He was sound asleep to the point where officer Estes basically had to yell at him from his bedroom doorway to wake him up," Goss said.

Goss said he is not aware if drugs or alcohol were involved, and Gray didn't offer an explanation for why he was sleeping so soundly. The boy's mother, Michelle Snell, was not home at the time.

Goss said the door to the apartment was unlocked, and the boy presumably let himself out.

Police returned the boy to his parents' custody, and referred the case to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The charge against Gray is a class D misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and $2,000 in fines. Gray is scheduled to appear on Sept. 18 in Waterville District Court.

On April 3, the same boy was found wandering alone in the same neighborhood about 8:30 a.m. on the corner of Appleton and Hathaway streets. He was dressed in a T-shirt, unbuttoned jeans and sneakers, without a jacket in 40-degree weather.

For the next hour, several officers, including Estes, canvassed the downtown neighborhood, knocking on doors and showing people a photo of the toddler.

About 9:45 a.m., police found his mother, Snell, at her Hathaway Street apartment. She said she did not know her toddler was missing; that she woke up around 7:30 a.m. and assumed the boy was still sleeping.

No charges were filed in that incident.

Ben McCanna -- 861-9239

bmccanna@centralmaine.com

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