Mom arrested after police find 4-year-old headed to Wal-Mart alone

Barbara Vanderpool
Barbara Vanderpool WKYT-TV

A southern Kentucky mother was arrested after police say they found her preschool-age son walking alone on a busy highway in Williamsburg.

The 4-year-old boy was found by motorists along U.S. 25 at about 6 p.m. Wednesday, WKYT-TV reported.

Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said it was the third time in recent months that police have had to rescue the child after he wandered off.

In one instance, Bird said he found the boy wearing only a diaper. And a week and a half ago, he said a deputy jailer was able to retrieve the boy and help get him into his grandfather’s car after the child ran into traffic.

On previous occasions, Bird said his office had called social services but had not charged the mother, Barbara Vanderpool.

On Wednesday, he said, “we felt like we didn’t have a choice.”

Bird said Vanderpool had left the child in the care of his great-grandparents, who were not able to keep up with him.

He said responding officers found the boy on the sidewalk at least a quarter of a mile from the home. He told them “he hadn’t had anything to eat all day” and was walking to Wal-Mart to get some cookies or chips.

Bird said he was several miles from the Williamsburg Wal-Mart.

Vanderpool, 24, was arrested Wednesday and charged with endangering the welfare of a minor.

She was taken to the Whitley County Detention Center. She was released Thursday on a $1,000 surety bond.