Parents of toddler arrested after residents say he wanders alone frequently near busy road

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Parents of a toddler who police said has autism, have been arrested and charged with abandoning or endangering a child after witnesses told police the two-year-old boy commonly wanders around their neighborhood wearing nothing but a diaper, or nothing at all.

Molly Neal, 38, and David Estrada, 37, were arrested Monday after an investigation into an October 8 incident. Police were notified that a child with a soiled and saggy diaper was found in the road on Lindale near Southwest Parkway, and the residents had him inside their house.

When the first officers arrived, they said a man and woman ran out of the house across the street yelling “is that our baby?” they told police they saw the police cars and assumed it was about their son. They said they had been looking everywhere since they noticed he had “escaped” their home a couple of minutes before police arrived.

The resident however told officers an unknown woman who found the toddler knocked on their door 30 to 40 minutes before police arrived and asked them if they knew the child. The woman told them the boy was running around next to Southwest Parkway.

The resident said they knew where the toddler lived and would take him in until the parents were located. The residents decided to call a family member because they did not feel the boy would be safe at home because he had been found alone in the street numerous times in the past week. They said the toddler had often come to their house and the parents never seemed that concerned unless police were contacted.

The family member notified the police, and after arriving, police contacted CPS and were told the parents had an open case involving their son. Officers questioned the parents again and asked why they hadn’t contacted police to help locate him. They said the parents then changed their story that their son had been missing at least 15 minutes before the police arrived. Officers said they seemed more concerned at this point with their CPS case, and kept saying they need to talk to their lawyer.

A CPS officer told police several visits to check on the parents and toddler had revealed the backdoor open and door alarms disabled. A follow-up visit to the home by an officer revealed there was no electricity in the house. The officer said Estrada told him their boy likes to go to neighbors’ homes and knock on their door. This was confirmed by a witness in the neighborhood who said the boy leaves his house all the time and usually is not wearing any clothing or diaper. Arrest records show Estrada had 15 arrests with six drug-related charges. Neal has six arrests, with nine drug-related charges

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