Gardner police find man, 20-month-old after search
GARDNER, Mass. (WHDH) -- Massachusetts State Police and Gardner police took 22-year-old Juston Harris into custody approximately three hours after he fled into a wooded area with his 20-month-old son Tuesday.
The child’s mother called police requesting assistance around 10:30 a.m. following a domestic dispute over custody issues, according to police. Police secured the area surrounding the home upon arrival and quickly set up a perimeter of approximately 100 acres.
Several different emergency response units arrived on the scene at West Street in Gardner and assisted in the search.
Friends of the suspect also help with the search.
“[I was looking for the baby] because the kid don’t need to be out in this atmosphere, you know what I mean? With no diapers, food,” said Bill Wright, suspect’s friend.
“It’s very, very, wrong that he took the kid into the woods but maybe he was not in the right state of mind at the time. That’s the only thing I can think of,” a woman said.
After several hours, police learned from family members that Harris had made it through the woods to a residence of someone he knew approximately two miles away.. Harris claimed he had just gone for a walk with the toddler.
The police were able to take Harris into custody without incident. He was taken to the Gardner Police Department Headquarters where he was booked for assault and battery, parental kidnapping of a child, intimidation of a witness and reckless endangerment of a child under 18 years of age.
Medical personnel transported the child to Heywood Hospital for evaluation and appeared unharmed.
Harris is being held on $25,000 bail.
The boy was back with his mother Tuesday evening.