For five days, police searched for a missing Florida baby Shannon Dedrick, and found her under her babysitterâ€™s bed in a cedar box.Â The baby wasnâ€™t crying, and appeared to have been fed and well cared for.Â Clothing and baking powder (to mask the smell of the diapers) was found in the box as well.Â
The baby’s mother, Chrystina Lynn Mercer, gave the baby to the babysitter Susan Elizabeth Baker early Saturday, and the babysitter never came back.
In a press conference today, Washington County Sheriff Bobby Haddock was on the verge of tears as he described how the 7-month-old Shannon was in the box for twelve hours before they discovered her Wednesday. Â The police believe that she has been in the box on and off for several days.
“She was way back under the bed,” he said. “But she was not crying.”
The babysitter wrote a letter to the the Govenors office in August, asking for someone to help the baby because the father shook her and the parents did drugs in front of her. Baker also asked the mother for permanent custody on Friday.
Mercer and Baker were both arrested; Mercer was charged with interference of child custody, and desertion of a child. Baker was charged with neglect of a child with aggravated circumstances and interference of child custody.
“Statistically speaking this should not have ever happened, that we found this child alive, especially after so many days,” said Haddock, who cradled Shannon in his arms as he spoke to reporters earlier Thursday. “Time was against us.”
Child welfare officials began to investigate two weeks after Shannon was born about allegations that Shannon was being abused.Â Investigators made frequent visits from August to late September, and reported that both parents used marijuana and kept a messy home, but that Shannon seemed to be cared for, and a physician determined she was healthy.