AP NEWS

Police: Brawling Babysitter Abandoned Tot After Car Crash

May 4, 2018 GMT

WILKES-BARRE — A Hudson man babysitting a friend’s infant got into a fight and car crash before abandoning the child at a local toy store this week, according to city police.

Thomas Heath Himlin Jr., 24, of 104 Union St., is accused of leaving the baby with a store employee after showing up in the store parking lot in a wrecked SUV and then leaving in a different vehicle with two other people.

According to a police affidavit, officers responded to the Toys “R” Us on Kidder Street around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to several reports of misconduct. Witnesses reported a man later identified as Himlin had gotten into a fight with two unknown men in the area of 805 Kidder Street before driving to the toy store in a Ford Escape with heavy front-end damage and deployed air bags, police said.

Himlin entered the store saying he had been in an accident and asking an employee to call his cellphone. Himlin left the store but then returned with a baby in a car seat, asking the employee to watch the child while he searched for his phone, according to the complaint.

Employees saw Himlin leave the store and get into a Ford SUV being driven by a woman. The charges say the damaged Ford Escape is registered to Himlin and that the vehicle the woman was driving is registered to his father.

Police found Himlin’s identification in his abandoned vehicle, and store employees said he was the person who left the child, police said.

The baby was taken to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital for evaluation and was subsequently placed into foster care through Luzerne County Children and Youth Services, police said.

Investigators then followed a fluid trail leading from Himlin’s car to state Route 315 in Plains Twp., the apparent scene of the accident, the complaint says. There, police found a damaged iPhone that rang when they dialed the number Himlin gave employees, the charges say.

Police say Himlin’s father would not cooperate but that his mother told them he had been in a crash while caring for the baby, and that he had left the child with plans to return for her. She also told police her son is a drug addict and that she didn’t know where he was, according to the complaint.

Investigators subsequently contacted the child’s mother, Vanessa Filip, who said Himlin was a friend who was supposed to watch the baby for a few hours while she moved Wednesday evening. Filip told police she later went to eat at Friendly’s on Kidder Street and called Himlin between 6-7 p.m., and he agreed to meet her there with the baby, the charges say.

But Himlin never showed up, and Filip went home, according to the complaint. When she still wasn’t able to reach Himlin, Filip told police she assumed Himlin had fallen asleep, so she waited for him to call her, the charges say.

While waiting, Filip fell asleep and didn’t wake up until about 2 p.m. Thursday, she told police. Still unable to reach Himlin, Filip went to his parents’ house and learned he had been in a crash and that the police had taken custody of the baby, the complaint says.

Court records show no charges had been filed against Filip related to the case. Police had a warrant charging Himlin with a felony count of child endangerment.

Investigators said the case remains under investigation and that further charges could be filed.