Sheriff says two N.C. children found abandoned in Mississippi woods; one dead, father sought

Published 1:31 pm Monday, January 25, 2021

A 2-year-old North Carolina girl has been found dead after she and her 7-year-old brother were abandoned in a pickup truck in a wooded area of central Mississippi, a sheriff said.

Authorities continued searching for the father on Monday. The mother was charged with child neglect. The boy was taken into protective custody.

Scott County Sheriff Mike Lee told WAPT-TV that James Harrison Jr. and Amy Harrison of Salisbury, North Carolina, were traveling through Mississippi with the children on Thursday when the couple argued at an Interstate 20 exit near the town of Lake.

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Lee said Amy Harrison got out of the vehicle, walked to a nearby gas station and called someone to pick her up.

Lee said James Harrison Jr., is the father of the younger child and stepfather of the older one.

Scott County Coroner Van Thames said the father abandoned the children in the vehicle. The boy and girl were walked away from the truck but got separated. The boy approached a hunter in the woods asking for help, and that started a search by law enforcement.

Deputies found the family’s truck off a road in a wooded area. A search was conducted and the toddler was found dead from what appears to be hypothermia, Thames said. An autopsy will be done.

Thames said James Harrison Jr. is diabetic and did not have medicine with him.

Lee said Amy Harrison reported her husband and children missing Friday. She told deputies that she last saw them Thursday after she and her husband argued.

Lee told WLBT-TV that investigators were trying to find out why she waited a day to report her family missing. It was not immediately clear Monday whether she is represented by an attorney.