A little boy was recently abandoned and his parents are on the run, North Carolina police say.
And now a nationwide manhunt is underway.
Brandon Augustine, 24, and Mildred Chestnut, 23, are charged with intentional child abuse causing serious injury, according to a news release from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Authorities are asking for the public’s help in locating the couple after their 4-month-old son was left alone at a Charlotte hospital while receiving care for what the parents said were injuries from a minor car accident in March.
According to police, the child is suffering from “serious and life-changing injuries”.
The police were alerted to the boy’s injuries on March 20, the press release states. According to police, however, investigators determined the child’s injuries were “not consistent” with a minor car accident.
“After further investigation, warrants were signed on March 21,” the press release said. “Chestnut and Augustine were reported missing by family members around the same time the police investigation began.”
Since March 21, CMPD’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Team has been searching unsuccessfully for Augustine and Chestnut, the department said. Police believe the two suspects are likely no longer in the Tarheel State.
“A vehicle belonging to them was found in Austell, Georgia, on March 21 after it had been intentionally abandoned and hidden,” CMPD alleged. “Detectives believe the couple received help, including money, shelter and entertainment.”
Austell is 162 miles southwest of Charlotte and about 17 miles outside of Atlanta.
Police also warned anyone considering providing the wanted couple with money, accommodation or transport.
“Anyone with knowledge of this case who provided assistance to Chestnut and Augustine is subject to criminal charges, including aiding and abetting a felony,” police said.
Augustine’s mother recently spoke with Charlotte-based NBC affiliate WCNC about the case and her son’s whereabouts. She independently filed a missing persons report about him and his fiancee.
“This is the longest I haven’t heard from him in his entire life,” Dianne Augustine told the station.
“I’m worried this is the last time,” she told WCNC after the missing person’s report was filed on March 23. “I’m honest, like something is so viscerally wrong, like something is so absolutely wrong.”
At the time, however, Dianne Augustine was unaware of the criminal investigation.
“[CMPD] kept me in the dark about everything because they were looking at the family,” she told WCNC. Police told the television station that the boy’s grandmother is not a person of interest.
“Do the right thing,” Dianne Augustine implored her son. “Please? Just so everyone knows you’re okay. And that you can handle what you have to handle the right way.”
A plea for help at the end of the police press release reads:
Anyone with knowledge of Chestnut and Augustine’s whereabouts is asked to call CMPD Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or http://charlottecrimestoppers.com/. All tips remain anonymous. For further information on this case, refer to the reports: 20230320-1435-05 (child abuse) & 20230320-1213-01 (missing persons).
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