MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man will face capital murder charges in the death of his 5-week-old son, whose body was found shortly after the father made a public plea for the baby’s safe return, authorities said Thursday.
Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said the body of infant Caleb Whisnand Jr. was found Wednesday night in a rural area of neighboring Lowndes County. The baby’s father, 32-year-old Caleb Whisnand Sr., was then arrested on manslaughter charges.
After an autopsy was conducted, investigators said they determined the charges should be upgraded to capital murder.
“This is a baby. You are talking about a 5-week-old baby,” Cunningham said.
Authorities did not disclose the cause of the infant’s death or how long he had been dead. A warrant indicated the infant “was buried in a remote area” and investigators believe the infant was killed in Montgomery County. The court record estimated the time of death between 3:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday, which would be several hours before a 911 call was made from a gas station reporting the baby missing. However, Cunningham stressed Thursday that they were still trying to put together the timeline.
The arrest of the father came after a bizarre news conference in which the father made a plea for the baby’s return. He said he didn’t remember much, and asked the public for information, including where he had been before the disappearance.
“I don’t remember a lot. But I did remember I was breaking up with the cops. If anybody’s got anything, any place I could have gone,” he said.
Whisnand Sr. hugged the baby’s mother, Angela Gardner, during the press conference arranged by the sheriff’s office and prompted her to show a cellphone photo of the missing baby.
The sheriff said after the news conference that investigators “were able to obtain some pretty good information that led us to the body.”
Authorities were alerted to the missing child after they received a 911 call Monday night from a convenience store. However, there were other indicators that the child may have been missing longer. An alert from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said the baby was last seen Saturday night.
Gardner told reporters at the Wednesday press conference that the baby had been with Whisnand and he told her that he realized the infant was missing when he went to go pay at a gas station.
“Please, find him, please,” Gardner told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
An Amber Alert was not issued for the missing child Monday night. Instead, Cunningham said they posted a “look out” for the child to let the public know. Cunningham said some initial information did not line up at the time, but it was difficult to do an Amber Alert based on speculation.
Law enforcement officials said they will vigorously prosecute the case.
“We will make sure that justice will prevail for this baby. You have my word on that,” District Attorney Daryl Bailey said.