Heather Adkins, a 32-year-old Indiana mother, was arrested in Kentucky over the weekend, after police said she drove across state lines to abandon her autistic child.
According to media reports, Adkins’ 5-year-old son was found wandering near a rural intersection in a suburb of Cincinnati on Thursday. The boy, who is nonverbal, was later connected to Adkins, who reportedly lives 80 miles away in Shelbyville, Indiana.
Police arrested the 32-year-old mom on Saturday in Kentucky, where she was wanted on an outstanding warrant for an unpaid ticket from more than a decade ago. Only after Adkins was booked did authorities realize she was also wanted in Ohio.
Adkins is currently jailed in Kentucky, but is set to be extradited back to Cincinnati to face a child endangerment charge. Her son, meanwhile, is in custody of the Hamilton County social services.
Autistic Child Found Abandoned in Ohio
According to local reports, emergency personnel in Colerain Township, Ohio — a little over 10 miles north of downtown Cincinnati — received a call late Thursday about an abandoned child.
The caller told dispatchers that her daughter’s boyfriend saw a young child waving down passing cars near Gaines and Sheed roads, a rural intersection with no sidewalk.
In court documents obtained by the Journal-News, authorities claimed that the child had been abandoned by his mother on Copper Creek Lane, a “unfamiliar, dark, dead-end street” about a block from where he was found. He was wearing a jacket and sweatpants, detectives added.
Police took to social media, posting a photo of the child and asking for help tracking down his family.
They eventually determined that the boy was about 5 years old, nonverbal with autism, and a resident of Indiana. When Adkins was identified as his mother, she was formally charged with child endangerment and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
It’s not clear how investigators in Ohio were able to link the child to Adkins.
“We have identified this child and are continuing to investigate this incident,” Colerain police wrote on Facebook. “Thanks to concerned residents who called us quickly last night, he is safe and warm. He will remain safe while we continue the investigation.”
Heather Adkins Arrested in Kentucky
Days later on Saturday, police 70 miles away in Kentucky received a call about a “suspicious person” at a gas station near Georgetown, just north of Lexington.
One employee at the store later told WRTV that a woman was “beating on windows and running into” customers and staff at the gas station. No further details were available.
When police arrived, the woman reportedly gave them a fake name and a real Social Security number. Through the SSN, the suspect was identified as 32-year-old Heather Adkins, wanted in Kentucky for an unpaid ticket from 2011.
Georgetown police told reporters they initially “had no idea” Adkins was sought for child endangerment, as the warrant had only been issued on the Ohio database and not through the national system.
While the 32-year-old mom is set to be extradited to Hamilton County to face the charge, she was still being held in a Kentucky jail Monday, where local reporters said she gave contradictory answers as to why she allegedly abandoned her son.
“I meant to leave him there with Patty,” she reportedly said at first, later claiming she “left him there with Brad[.]”
“You’ve given me contradictory answers to the names of people you left him with in Colerain,” asked station WKYT. “So, did you leave him with someone or did you not?”
“No, I didn’t leave him with anyone,” Adkins finally said.
Asked why she would abandon her austitic child, the mom reportedly answered: “To save him from me.”
Under Ohio law, child endangerment can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Potential sentences vary widely depending on the facts of the case as established by prosecutors.