He probably slept and hid under thick bushes in some woods, frightened from a brief thunderstorm and the noise of rescue helicopters and searchers on foot, horseback and all-terrain vehicles.
When a helicopter pilot spotted Kevin on Sunday night, he was nearly a mile from his home. Kevin was lying on his stomach at the edge of a pond as if he had been drinking, and the co-pilot jumped out, scooped him up and flew him to a hospital.
"This little fellow was gone 69 hours and 16 minutes. There's no way he should have been alive," Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford said. "I don't know if you believe in God, but this is truly a miracle that this boy is alive."
The toddler was treated for sunburn, dehydration, minor cuts and insect bites.
Doctors also were trying to determine whether Kevin was abducted but are not revealing their findings until a child psychologist talks to him in a few days, Alford said.
During the extensive search, many feared Kevin had been snatched from a road near his rural home because they found no signs of his yellow T-shirt or gray checkered shorts. Officials even got tips about a suspicious red truck in the area.
But the sheriff said he believes the child simply wandered off, because his diaper was so soiled and because he had fresh cuts as well as some that had started to heal, indicating he had been outside for several days.
"I really don't believe he was abducted; he simply eluded us," Alford said.
The ordeal began on Sept. 21 when Kevin and his 4-year-old brother Anthony were playing in the front yard of their mobile home. Their parents, Karla and Almond Brown, were inside with the windows and door open when Anthony entered, saying he had been bitten by a fire ant, Alford said.