The mother of a 2-year-old child who went missing for at least six hours on Tuesday was arrested on a misdemeanor child neglect charge Wednesday, Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said.
It was the second time Chelsea Noble’s toddler William Odom, who has autism, has been reported missing to the sheriff’s department, Peterson said.
“The first time, we got a call that he was down near the bridge,” he said.
The family lives near a creek and the Biloxi River.
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Child protection workers took custody of Noble’s children at the time of her arrest, Peterson said.
Noble, 21, was at home Wednesday when William wandered out of their home in the 19400 block of Pete Hickman Road, Peterson said.
He reportedly went missing about 7:30 a.m., about an hour after the child’s father told the Sun Herald he had left for work.
William left home wearing only a diaper on and with a dog at his side.
He was reported missing at 10:30 a.m. and was found during an extensive search after an elementary school student heard a horn honking and found the child locked in a pickup with its windows cracked, Peterson said. Several first-responders were searching, along with a Gulf Coast Search and Rescue team.
They had not yet searched the area where William had climbed into a truck and apparently took a nap.
“Our greatest concern was he was 2 years old and he was lost,” Peterson said.
“With the autism, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t hear us. He couldn’t answer us. He couldn’t make noises so we could hear him. We didn’t know if he was going to drown in the creek or come in contact with an animal that would hurt him or a stray dog.”
The child was found about 150 to 200 yards from where he was found the first time, Peterson said.
Noble was taken to the Harrison County jail. Her bond is $1,500.
William began honking the horn of the pickup truck Tuesday about the time Saucier Elementary School student Blake Carroll got off his school bus. Blake followed the sound and alerted his aunt and uncle. Blake’s uncle reached in and unlocked a door, Peterson said.
Blake was recognized for his efforts at school Wednesday. Principal Cindy Grimes bought him a hamburger from Herrin’s Short Stop and gave it to him for lunch, said Trang Pham-Bui, spokeswoman for the Harrison County School District.
Grimes noted that “Blake showed great responsibility,” Pham-Bui said.