An infant boy was recently abandoned, and his parents are on the run, police in North Carolina say.
And now, a nationwide manhunt is underway.
Brandon Augustine, 24, and Mildred Chestnut, 23, stand accused of felony intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, according to a press release from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Authorities are asking for the public’s assistance locating the couple after their 4-month-old son was left alone at a hospital in Charlotte while receiving care for what the parents allegedly said were injuries from a minor car crash in March.
According to police, the child is suffering from “severe and life-altering injuries.”
Police were alerted to the boy’s injuries on March 20, the press release says. According to police, however, detectives determined that the child’s injuries were “not consistent” with a minor car crash.
“After further investigation, warrants were signed on March 21,” the press release says. “Chestnut and Augustine were reported missing by family members at around the same time as the police investigation began.”
Since March 21, the CMPD’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Team has been searching for Augustine and Chestnut in vain, the department said. Police believe the two suspects are likely no longer in the Tarheel State.
“A vehicle belonging to them was found in Austell, Georgia, on March 21 after it was intentionally abandoned and hidden,” the CMPD alleged. “Detectives believe that the couple has been receiving assistance including money, shelter, and rides.”
Austell is 262 miles southwest of Charlotte and roughly 17 miles outside Atlanta.
Police also warned anyone considering providing the wanted pair with funds, living quarters, or transportation.
“Anyone with knowledge of this case that has been providing assistance to Chestnut and Augustine is subject to criminal charges including Aiding and Abetting, and Accessory after the Fact of a Felony,” police said.
Augustine’s mother recently spoke with Charlotte-based NBC affiliate WCNC about the case and her son’s whereabouts. She independently filed a missing persons report on him and his fiancée.
“This is the longest I haven’t heard from him in his entire life,” Dianne Augustine told the TV station.
“I’m worried it’s the last time,” she told WCNC after that missing person’s report was filed on March 23. “I’m being honest, like something is so viscerally wrong, like something is so absolutely wrong.”
At the time, however, Dianne Augustine was unaware of the criminal investigation.
“[CMPD] kept me in the dark on everything because they were looking at family,” she told WCNC. The police department told the TV station that the boy’s grandmother is not a person of interest.
“Do the right thing,” Dianne Augustine pleaded with her son. “Please? Like, just so everybody knows that you’re okay. And that you can deal with what you’re supposed to deal with the right way.”
A request for help at the end of the police press release says:
Anyone with knowledge of Chestnut and Augustine’s whereabouts is asked to call CMPD Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or http://charlottecrimestoppers.com/. All tips remain anonymous. For additional information about this case, please refer to the reports: 20230320-1435-05 (child abuse) & 20230320-1213-01 (missing persons).
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