Woman charged with dumping 3-week-old baby along road and lying to police

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A 19-year-old mother has been charged with dumping her 3-week-old daughter along a rural road for 12 hours and lying to police about the baby’s whereabouts, prompting an Amber Alert.

Bond was set at $100,000 Friday for Kendra Meaker of Toulon, who was charged in Stark County Court with obstruction of justice and endangering the life or health of a child.

Meaker told a judge during a Friday court appearance that she had no job and no income, and said nothing else.

During the hearing, Sheriff Jimmie Dison told the court Kendra that showed up at his department Thursday morning to report that someone had snatched her 3-week-old baby, Mia Graci Thompson, out of the back seat of her car after she went inside the post office in Toulon, about 30 miles northwest of Peoria, to mail a package.

Meaker, who also has an 11-month-old daughter, eventually changed her story and told Illinois State Police and FBI investigators she left the baby on a roadside, Sheriff Jimmie Dison said. The baby was on the gravel roadside from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday as scores of police and volunteers searched for her.

The two volunteer searchers who found the crying child and brought her to emergency workers.

Two volunteer searchers, Russell and Mary Jo Van Dran, said they heard a baby crying as they sat inside their truck and found the child in a culvert just off a gravel road outside Toulon.

“My wife was out of the truck like a shot, cut down there and we had a heck of a time getting the baby out of the grass. She had her fingers interwoven in the grass,” Russell Van Dran told NBC station WEEK of Peoria, Ill. “We were just at the right place at the right time. God had a hand in this thing too.”

Meaker’s aunt, Sandy Hollingsworth of Marseilles, is acting as spokeswoman for Meaker’s family.

“This has been a hellish 24 hours that our family has endured,” Hollingsworth said.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said the baby was being cared for at a hospital. Meaker’s 11-month-old daughter was with relatives.

A telephone listing for Meaker was disconnected. Meaker is next due in court Oct. 12.

Under Illinois’ Safe Haven law, parents are allowed to relinquish custody of an unharmed newborn up to 30 days old to personnel at a hospital, emergency medical care facility, police or fire station.

Parents can give up their child anonymously and without the threat of prosecution for abandonment.

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