Parents Jailed Soon After 3-Year-Old Spends Night Outdoors

JULY 25, 2005 - Posted at 3:52 p.m. CDT

BATESVILLE, AR - An Independence County couple faces endangerment charges after their three-year-old son spent a night outside in a ditch.

Passing motorists found James Christopher Pace 700 yards from his home in a snake-infested ditch and covered with ticks.  A witness said that when the boy's mother reached the scene, she began yelling at the boy and was verbally abusive toward him.

An Independence County Sheriff's Department spokesman said 48-year-old Patricia Pace was charged with neglect of a minor and endangering the welfare of a minor.  Her husband, 50-year-old Harold Pace was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor.

State Police said Mrs. Pace initially said the child had been gone about two hours, then said she didn't know how long he had been missing.  The boy told police he had been gone all night.  No one had called police while the boy was missing.

The child was taken to the White River Medical Center in Batesville for treatment of the insect bites.  The Department of Human Services later took the boy into protective custody.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)