UPDATE 7:50 a.m.: Wythe County Sheriff’s Office confirms with WFXR News that a 3-year-old’s body was found in the New River around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Police say the toddler’s mother and mother’s boyfriend reported the girl was playing outside near New River Trail and wandered off around 7:30 Tuesday night. The family was visiting a nearby home. Neighbors say the couple stopped to talk to someone when the young girl wandered off.
Police say the search took more than five and a half hours, and the body was found 100 yards downstream of where law enforcement found child footprints.
“Probably one of the worst things for first responders is that it is a small child, because that tugs at your heart a little bit more,” says Wythe County Sheriff Keith Dunagan.
More than 100 first responders reported to the scene including Lead Mines Rescue Squad, Virginia State Police, New River Trail Police, Virginia Conservation Police, Wytheville Police Department, Pulaski Fire Department, and Black Diamond Search and Rescue. The search took more than five and a half hours.
The girl’s mother, Kimberly Dawn Moore and, mother’s boyfriend, Adrian Neil Puckett, were arrested and taken to New River Regional Jail. They have both been charged with felony child neglect and felony child endangerment.
Neighbors say Puckett went by his middle name, Neil. Some described as friendly and said he kept a watchful eye on Josie. They described the 3-year-old as energetic, outgoing, and said she liked to run around. They also said she seemed happy and well cared for.
But the Wythe County Sheriff’s Office says both Moore and Puckett were under the influence of drugs when the 3-year-old went missing, and more charges could be pending.
“The parents of the child didn’t pay attention and now they’ve lost their child. And the reason they weren’t paying attention is they were under the influence of methamphetamine,” says Dunagan.
UPDATE 6:30 am.: Law enforcement and rescue crews are no longer on scene. Wythe County Sheriff’s Office is expected to release more details later this morning.
Wythe County law enforcement is searching for a 3-year-old who went missing while playing outside Tuesday.
Police are looking for Josie Burleson, she was last seen by the New River Trail off Bertha Farms Road.
Josie weighs about 45 pounds, has blonde hair and blue eyes.
She was last seen wearing pink pants and a pink shirt.
Multiple agencies are searching for Josie.
We have a crew on the way to the scene, tune into Good Day Virginia for the latest.