HINCKLEY, Ohio — Hinckley police identified the parents of a child abandoned at a cemetery Wednesday and the little boy remains in foster care.
Police were called to Hope Memorial Gardens Cemetery around 12:15 p.m. Wednesday after a witness allegedly saw a blue mid-sized car fleeing the cemetery at a high rate of speed.
“To the lady that was there, thank God somebody was there to be with him until we got there,” Hinckley Police Chief Dave Centner said. “There was a dog with him. She got out of her car and got the little boy and put him in her car and then called the sheriff's office.”
Hinckley police and the Medina County Department of Job and Family Services are working to figure out who abandoned the child, believed to be about three years old, in the middle of a cemetery in wet clothes with no shoes on.
“We all have our opinions on someone who could do that to their child or a child at all,” Centner said. “Did whoever dropped him off wait for somebody to come into the cemetery and left him so he would be in somebody’s care?”
Police told WEWS they struggled to get information from the little boy, aside from his first name.
“He only knows his first name. He doesn't know his last name,” Centner said. “He was a pretty happy little fella. We got him back to the Police Department, called Children's Services, got him some lunch, and got him a change of clothes to get him out of his wet clothes.”
Medina County JFS will ultimately determine who will care for the young boy moving forward, but there are plenty of helpful volunteers stepping up.
“He's young, so I don't know if he understands the gravity of what is happening,” Medina County JFS Director Debbie Kiley said. “We have funds available that will help clothe the child and purchase food for the child. We have that child in a very safe and loving environment right now.”
The Hinckley Township Police Department’s original Facebook post about the little boy racked up hundreds of comments and Centner himself offered up his home.
“My wife and I have already told children’s services if they have a problem with that, we will welcome him into our home,” Centner said. “We've got 14 grandkids and a big house and plenty of room and love for him.”
Kiley is asking the public for patience, privacy, and empathy for the little boy.
“It's really easy for people to start prosecuting who did this and we don't know who did it yet,” Kiley said. “I want to slow everyone down and let's not point fingers and presume it was a parent or grandparent or a brother or sister. We don't have that information yet.”
Police said the father has been cooperating with the department and the sheriff's office.
KSTU reported that before the child's parents were identified, gifts and clothes were donated to the Hinkley Police Department to ensure the child had a great holiday.
"Our lobby is full of the gifts that have been dropped off. I reached out to my friend Santa and tomorrow morning after he has finished his deliveries he is going to stop at HPD. We are going to load the sleigh and make one final stop to see our little friend." wrote Chief Centner on Facebook.
The dog found with the little boy is reportedly being cared for at the Medina County Animal Shelter.
No charges have been filed yet.
This story was first published by Emily Hamilton and Courtney Shaw at WEWS in Cleveland, Ohio.