Police: Southern Indiana boy, 2, found wandering busy highway alone; mom napping inside

Neighbors found the boy, fed and clothed him until police arrived to investigate.
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 11:40 PM EDT
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AUSTIN, Ind. (WAVE) - In a short stretch of the usually quiet city of Austin, Ind., a portion of State Highway 256 saw a different kind of traffic: a toddler running across the two-lane roadway.

“Everybody couldn’t believe it,” neighbor Teresa Wade said.

Wade’s front yard was essentially the scene of the incident Friday afternoon.

“Some of [the cars], they go pretty fast,” Wade said. “Big semis go up and down through here... It’s a miracle that that kid didn’t get killed.”

Wade wasn’t home when the little boy was discovered, but her husband was. However, when she arrived a half-hour later, police still did not know to whom the child belonged.

By that point, neighbors at West Main Street and South 6th Street had sprung into action, clothing the boy found with nothing but a dirty diaper and a cut on his chin.

They gave him snacks and tried to assist while the Austin PD investigators worked to track down the boy’s guardian.

“They were trying to find out where it had come from, where it belonged,” Wade said. “Nobody was out looking for it or nothing.”

After at least an hour, Deone Oliver, 28, approached the scene, claiming the boy as his son.

Oliver told them he had been ill at the hospital.

Police say they then discovered that the boy’s mother, Alexandrea Church, 22, was inside their home right across the street from where the boy had been found.

According to court documents, she told police she had been napping.

“When we found out it was right there across the road, it shocked everybody,” Wade said.

Inside the home in the 500 block of West Main Street, police found more shocking details, like the “odor of feces, trash, and old food piled on the countertops…and the floor all throughout the residence,” according to court documents.

Police also found a crib with “what appeared by be a mixture of old food and feces on the mattress.”

Furthermore, police discovered the presence of another small child inside the home, this one just one year old.

The Indiana Department of Child Services took custody of the children, and police arrested Oliver and Church. Both are charged with neglect of a dependent.

“I sit in there and I hear about stuff on TV and I cry,” Wade said. “Then I hear about it out in my yard? I can’t stand it. It just blows me away.”

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