A report on October 18, 2017, of a possible missing child in Burnett County has resulted in criminal charges for the parents of that child.
According to a criminal complaint filed against Elsie Bearhart, the Burnett County Sheriff's Office was dispatched regarding a call about a missing child in Siren, WI on October 18, 2017. An employee of the Head Start located on State Highway 35 & Midtown Road spoke to the deputy who first arrived on scene and stated that a young girl, aged maybe 8 or 9 years old, had approached him and asked if he had seen her 4-year-old brother because he was missing.
Approximately 10 people were on scene, already attempting to search for the missing boy. A 13-year-old sibling of the boy along with a 6-year-old sibling were there as well. The 13-year-old spoke with deputies and told them that the boy runs away a lot, but that she has always been able to find him. It was determined that the boy had been missed for at least an hour, perhaps more.
The 13-year-old went on to tell deputies that her parents were Elsie Bearhart and Greg Nelson and that she did not know where they were. She also told deputies that she and her 6-year-old sibling live primarily with her grandparents, while her 4-year-old brother lives primarily with their dad in the neighboring residence. The girl went on to say that she could not get into her father's residence because the door was locked and she didn't have a key.
The children's grandfather arrived during this time and spoke to deputies, advising that he had recently arrived home from work and learned that the 4-year-old boy was missing. He stated that both the mother and the father of the children use methamphetamine. The criminal complaint goes on to state that the grandfather also stated that the father doesn't watch the 4-year-old boy, but instead sleeps all day. The older siblings told deputies that their mother had been gone for a week, but had been to see them that morning, telling them she had to go bail someone out of jail.
Deputies noted that no lights appeared to be turned on inside the residence where the 4-year-old boy primarily lives, however a short time later, one of the searchers spotted a child through a window on that residence. After the door of the residence was unlocked the 4-year-old ran outside and deputies had to stop him from running into the woods. The child was wearing only a soiled t-shirt and soiled pants.
When deputies asked the 13-year-old why she didn't call the police when she realized that her brother was missing, she began to cry and said that she was afraid her father would be mad at her for calling the police. She said she kept hoping that she would be able to find her brother like she always had before. The deputy told her that she should never be afraid to call the police for help.
When deputies escorted the children back inside the residence, they observed that there was rotten food on the kitchen counter, scribbling all over the walls, holes in the walls and doors, and the front door was damaged. There was liquor and a utility knife within reach of the children. There was very little food inside the fridge. In the bathroom, deputies saw mold in the shower area and burned matches in the sink. In one bedroom there was a set of bunk beds, with no bedding, and only soiled mattresses.
When deputies checked the 4-year-old boy's bedroom, they found another soiled mattress without any bedding, no light bulb in the light fixture, a blanket covering the window, and the floor was covered with dirty clothes, toys and old food. It also appeared that there was feces smeared on the walls of the room.
After law enforcement had been in the residence for 22 minutes, according to the criminal complaint, an adult male came out of a back bedroom, wearing only underwear which kept falling down. The man identified himself as Greg Nelson, the father of the three children, and was swearing at the officers. Deputies saw that Greg's pupils were dilated and his skin was sweaty. Nelson was eventually placed under arrest due to his aggressive behavior towards officers. The master bedroom and bathroom of the residence were also observed to be dirty and messy and two rifles were located in the master bedroom of the residence when deputies checked to ensure that no one else was in the residence.
The criminal complaint filed against Bearhart states that when deputies were able to speak with her, she said that she had been gone for a week, but had come home earlier that day, only to have to leave again to go to Polk County Jail to bail someone out. Bearhart also allegedly admitted to deputies that she uses methamphetamine.
Burnett County Health and Human Services were called in to take the children into custody.
Bearhart is charged with 3 counts of Class A Misdemeanor Child Neglect. It is not known to DrydenWire.com at this time if Bearhart has been placed on any bail bond.
Online circuit court show that Nelson has been charged with 3 counts of Class A Misdemeanor Child Neglect, 1 count of Class B Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct, and 2 counts of Class A Misdemeanor Resisting or Obstructing an Officer. Nelson posted a cash bail bond of $1,200 on November 2, 2017.
Bearhart and Nelson are both scheduled to appear in Burnett County Circuit Court later this month regarding their criminal charges.
Pursuant to the direction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicly, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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