A 6-year-old boy abandoned Monday at a Kansas City fire station appears to have been caught in a custody dispute between his parents, who are estranged, police said Friday.
The boy’s mother dropped off the boy with his father on March 22. On Monday, the father was ready to return the boy to his mother, but she was not available. It’s unclear, police said, if she could not be reached or if she told the father that he needed to continue caring for the boy.
Either way, the father allegedly drove the boy to a fire station near 34th Street and the Paseo just before noon, gave the boy to firefighters and said he could not care for the boy.
“It sounds like he thought that was the right thing to do,” said Detective David Albers.
The boy was checked at a hospital and found to be in good health. Missouri Children’s Division workers released the boy to his mother.
Detectives, who learned about the incident Thursday, were preparing a case file to give to prosecutors, who will decide whether any laws were broken. Most child abandonment and endangerment laws in Missouri require that a child be in danger to prosecute.
Missouri’s Safe Haven Law allows parents to drop off babies up to 1 year old at hospitals, police stations and fire stations with no questions asked. Parents of babies 5 days old or less are immune from prosecution, according to the law. Parents of older babies are not guaranteed to avoid prosecution, but they can use the law as an affirmative defense.
Police said the law is not intended to cover school-age children, although they said dropping off a child at a fire station is clearly preferable to mistreatment or abandoning a child on the street.