Shannon Dedrick Found Alive Under Babysitter Susan Elizabeth Baker's Bed, Say Cops

(family photo)
Photo: Family Photo

CHIPLEY, Fla. (CBS/AP) 7-month-old Shannon Dedrick, a Florida toddler who was missing for five days, has been found alive and apparently well, to the great relief and surprise of authorities. Washington County Sheriff Bobby Haddock said the discovery left "grown men crying."

But the joyous discovery is accompanied by shock and sadness as well, as authorities announced they plan to charge the child's babysitter, Susan Elizabeth Baker, her husband James Arthur Baker, and the child's mother Chrystina Lynn Mercer, in connection with the disappearance.

Haddock said investigators found the 7-month-old late Wednesday at the babysitter's home, in a box tucked under a bed, surrounded by items intended to hide the child. Shannon was taken to a hospital but appeared healthy and is now in protective custody.

Washington County Sheriff Bobby Haddock told the Associated Press early Thursday that everyone involved in the investigation is relieved and a little surprised at the outcome, saying, "statistically speaking this should not have happened, that we found the child alive, especially after so many days…it was very emotional for us, we called our wives and every one of us was crying…it's just such a relief," he said.

Haddock, sheriff in the rural Florida Panhandle community, confirmed that Baker was the Susan Elizabeth Baker cited in court records as being convicted of assault in South Carolina in 1987, and questioned but not indicted in 2000 for a 3-year-old child's disappearance, also in 1987.

Haddock confirmed that in August Baker wrote an email to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's office, pleading for the governor to help Shannon Dedrick. Haddock said his response is, "We saved the child, Ms. Baker".

Investigators would not provide details about the possible charges against the babysitter, her husband, or the child's mother, but said more information would be released Thursday.

November 2, 2009 - Infant Shannon Dedrick Missing from Florida Panhandle Home