A couple has been charged with trying to sell their 3-month-old baby. When they couldn’t locate a seller for the asking price — $500 to $1,000 — both of them ran off, abandoning the infant at a house in Layland, West Virginia.
On Saturday evening, the Fayette County 911 center received a call about a “sick infant.” The woman who called said the child had been abandoned earlier in the day by a young couple. Witnesses at the home in Layland told law enforcement that the infant was left in the woman’s care when she would not agree to buy it. Individuals on the scene later told police the name of the 20-year-old father, Jonathan Isaac Lucas Flint.
Before officials were given this information, Child Protective Services took the baby to the hospital first. The child was then placed in foster care until the parents could be named. Authorities said the baby would not stop crying and shaking and may have been suffering from withdrawal symptoms. This may have led police to suspect that the reason for the parents’ unusual behavior was their desire for drug money.
Investigators were then able to determine the name of the father and paternal grandmother. After questioning the two of them, deputies were told the mother was 25-year-old Ashley Nichole Harmon.
Both the mother and the father now face charges of attempting to sell a baby and gross child neglect, per the Washington Times. Police discovered that Harmon had left her home in Rupert, West Virginia, in Greenbrier County on Thursday with the 3-month-old. She also left two other children under the age of three at the same house. Reports did not state whether she left the other children alone or in someone’s care.
Couple arrested for allegedly trying to sell their own baby https://t.co/hU5xeFWOOZ
— WSAZ NewsChannel 3 (@WSAZnews) June 4, 2016
Sheriff Steve Kessler said the situation was an odd one, meaning that police deal with incidents of child neglect and abandonment every day, but not with parents trying to sell their offspring.
“Law enforcement officers frequently deal with some pretty strange situations. A situation like this is really out of the ordinary though.”
Other accusations against the couple are that they knocked on the door of a woman (the same one who later called 911). When she refused to buy the baby, they asked her to babysit the child. She agreed and when Flint and Harmon returned the following day, the child was in CPS custody. Apparently, the woman was not part of the scheme, and likely due to her willingness to provide child care, the infant didn’t suffer further harm, nor was it actually sold to someone else. What is not obvious is what the parents were thinking or if they actually believed the child would be there with the woman when they returned the following day.
West Virginia couple accused of trying to sell 3-month-old baby https://t.co/eHNmz5EuTp
— KDKA (@CBSPittsburgh) June 5, 2016
The following day, both of the child’s parents were arrested. Kessler thanked everyone who kept the baby safe, according to WVVA.
“We are extremely grateful for the assistance provided to us by the Child Protective Services Workers who worked diligently to insure the health and safety of this innocent infant child and helped us identify and locate the individuals who allegedly attempted to sell this child.”
Harmon and Flint, who tried to get drug money by selling their own child, remain in the Southern Regional Jail in Fayette County. Each is being held on $100,000 bond, and jail records do not indicate whether either has an attorney. The case is now under further investigation.
[Image via Southern Regional Jail/Fayette County Sheriff’s Department]