A toddler was left to fend for herself for several days when a middle-aged man, who was caring for her in his Michigan home, mysteriously dies, according to Wood8 TV.
At approximately 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 10, Kent County police officials were called to the home of 49-year-old Ron Finkler “in the 15000 block of Peach Ridge Avenue NW in Tyrone Township, near Kent City” after he failed to bring the child to her mother on Mother’s Day and when “several phone calls to Finkler went unanswered.”
Michigan toddler found with the body of her caretaker three days after his death: https://t.co/kkpe0yJApx
— NBC 6 South Florida (@nbc6) May 12, 2016
When police officials arrived at the location, they discovered the Michigan man dead in his home, but he wasn’t alone. Sources say that a 2-year-old girl, Haleigh Ann — who was found alive – was in the home with the dead body for several days before Kent County police officials made the discovery.
Relatives say Kinkler, who wasn’t related to the toddler, but was close friends with her grandfather, had played an integral part in the toddler’s life when her father went to jail on drug charges and her mother Megan Wheelock was “having some issues and was juggling a job.”
The toddler’s mother stated that she was overjoyed to hear that her daughter was okay, but was devastated after learning that the man who took on a fatherly role in her daughter’s life had passed away. She said, “He’s literally been our backbone.”
“Babysitting Hailey for me when I had nobody to babysit for me. He helped me 100 percent.”
After Kent County police officials discovered that the toddler had been fending for herself for days after her caretaker, who didn’t have any children of his own, mysteriously died in his Michigan home, she was taken to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, where “she was treated for possible dehydration and a possible urinary tract infection.”
Her mother stated that she was released from the hospital the following day, and she is now being “cared for by her maternal grandmother.”
However, according to WWMT, Wheelock is planning “to give guardianship of Haleigh to her aunt while she figures out a better work situation.”
Tammy VandeWetering, who is Finkler’s friend, believes that she was the last person to talk to him alive. She went on to say that he seemed fine and didn’t appear to have any health issues before his sudden death.
Monsignor Terrance Stewart added that “it’s hard to believe and hard to understand” that a toddler could fend for themselves for days in a home without adult supervision. He said, “Apparently she went into the refrigerator and got food and so on. They think that’s what she did.”
VandeWetering said that she “can see Haleigh dragging a chair over there and getting something. You have to know her. She’s so smart… Ron just spent so much time teaching her things that I kind of can understand it. And he always made sure everything was Haleigh-friendly.”
Neighbor John Anderson remembers Finkler as “very friendly and outgoing” and added that he “was a good neighbor. It’s a sad deal, and I’m sorry for the parents.”
— Cassy Arsenault (@CassyArsenault) May 11, 2016
Another neighbor, Lisa Johnson, said that she would often see Finkler and the toddler outside playing and having a great time. Johnson stated she would see them “smiling, laughing, giggling, and could be heard singing the ABCs, as well as dancing, just playing, like running around playing games and stuff.”
A local medical examiner stated that foul play or criminal activity is not suspected in the death of Ron Finkler as an autopsy show that there were no signs of trauma, but the coroner has yet to uncover how the middle-aged man died suddenly in his home. The Kent County Sheriff’s Department believes that he may have died of natural causes, but an investigation is ongoing.
[Image via Shutterstock]