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Page last updated at 15:32 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Babysitter 'hid' missing US child

Undated police file photo of Shannon Dedrick
Shannon Dedrick has been placed in protective custody

Police in the US state of Florida have found a baby, reported missing six days ago, alive under her babysitter's bed.

Seven-month-old Shannon Dedrick was discovered in a box at Susan Baker's home near the rural town of Chipley.

Investigators say they are planning to charge the babysitter, her husband and the child's mother.

Shannon's parents reported her missing on Saturday. Police searched the woods around the couple's home, before visiting the Baker house on Wednesday.

"They gave us consent to search the home and we found the baby in a box under a bed, with stuff pushed around the box to hide the baby," said Washington County Sheriff Bobby Haddock.

We've had missing children cases in the past, but nothing like this
Sheriff Bobby Haddock

Shannon was taken to hospital, but appeared healthy and has been placed in protective custody.

Mr Haddock said Baker, her husband, James Arthur Baker, and the baby's mother, Chrystina Lynn Mercer, were likely to face charges, but he did not go into detail.

The sheriff also said Shannon's father - a relation of the babysitter - was not currently a suspect.

"We've had missing children cases in the past, but nothing like this," added Mr Haddock.

In another twist, police confirmed that back in August the babysitter had written an e-mail to the office of Florida Governor Charlie Crist, claiming Shannon was being abused and pleading for him to help.

Court documents released on Wednesday showed child welfare workers in Florida had investigated whether Shannon was being abused and determined the risk to the child was "intermediate", reported AP news agency.

Police also confirmed the Bakers had been questioned in 2000 about the disappearance of their three-year-old son in South Carolina back in 1987.

Susan Baker had told police the child - who was never found - disappeared while she had been sleeping, the sheriff's office in Beaufort County, South Carolina, told AP.

She was also convicted of a serious assault on a six-year-old girl in that state in 1987, police said.



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