Page last updated at 22:45 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Found US baby's mother is charged


Seven-month-old Shannon Dedrick joins a news conference

Police in the US state of Florida have charged the mother of a baby, reported missing six days ago, with desertion of a child.

Earlier on Wednesday, seven-month-old Shannon Dedrick was found alive under her babysitter's bed.

Police said Shannon's mother, Chrystina Lynn Mercer, 25, conspired with her babysitter, Susan Baker, 50, to pass the child over to Ms Baker.

The baby was discovered in a box at Ms Baker's rural home near Chipley.

Susan Baker has been charged with neglect of a child with aggravated circumstances and interference of child custody.

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.

The sheriff 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 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", the Associated Press news agency reported.

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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