Two charged after 3-year-old found in cold

Becky Campbell • Jan 20, 2012 at 9:03 AM

A 3-year-old Washington County boy wandered out of his mother’s apartment in freezing weather one night last week after being unable to find her, according to a court document filed last week in Jonesborough.

The boy’s mother, Heather Michelle Barham, 24, and her live-in boyfriend, Arthur Elliot Bales, 23, 198 Oak Grove Road, Apt. 7, were apparently at a neighbor’s apartment when the boy went outside.

Both are charged with aggravated child abuse, neglect and endangerment.

The incident happened at Scenic View Apartments on Jan. 12 around 11 p.m. According to the court document, there was snow on the ground and the temperature was 28 degrees.

A Washington County sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to the apartment complex after the resident at another apartment found the barefoot child on their porch shaking, crying and screaming, “I can’t find my Mommy.”

When the officer arrived, Barham approached him immediately and said her child went missing while she and Bales visited another neighbor.

That neighbor told officers the couple was with her for about 45 minutes.

According to the court document, Bales told the officer he left the apartment door open.

Bales was arrested for failure to secure the child inside and Barham was charged because her child was able to leave the apartment unnoticed, according to the court record.

Bales and Barham were arraigned on the charges last week and will have another court appearance today.

He was being held on a $25,000 bond and she has a $50,000 bond.


Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of the apartment where the child was found.

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