Shannon Dedrick, the Florida seven-month-old who was reported missing from her home over a week ago, was found alive recently. The girl was found lying hidden in a small box under the bed of her babysitter / step-aunt, Susan Baker. Shannon appeared to be in good health. According to police, Ms. Baker had asked the child’s mother, Crystina Lynn Mercer, to give her permanent custody of the child, and Ms. Mercer handed the girl over to her.
Police became suspicious of Ms. Baker after learning that she and her husband had been arrested in 2000 in connection with the disappearance of their own three-year-old son over twenty years ago in South Carolina. That case has never been solved. Washington County, Florida Sheriff, Bobby Haddock, says that the women conspired to place the child with Ms. Baker, but they do not believe that Ms. Mercer was aware that Ms. Baker had hidden the child in a box under her bed.
According to the local news station, WLTX, Ms. Mercer has been charged with deserting a child, and Ms. Baker has been charged with aggravated child neglect. Both women have been charged with filing a false missing child report, filing a false report of a crime, interference with child custody, and contributing to the dependency of a child. Ms. Baker’s husband was arrested as well, but he has been released; police have not determined if they will charge him with a crime.
If these women had gone through proper channels to legally change custody of Shannon, all the drama and cost of the prolonged search could have been avoided, and the women would not be facing criminal charges. It is unclear why Ms. Mercer would so easily hand over her child to someone else, and why they would not go through regular channels, but more details will likely come out as the investigation continues.
Find out more about Sannon and her ordeal at Shannon Dedrick case: Police say mother gave girl to babysitter, both women charged. </a