UPDATE, 3:30 p.m. Friday:
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson addressed reporters Friday afternoon to announce that the parents of Robert Holcomb Jr., the 5-year-old who went missing Thursday, have been arrested.
Johnson said Robert’s parents, Robert Holcomb, 39, and Amber Lindsey, 33, saw him around 8 a.m. and went back to bed. There was also an adult male over 18 in the house, Johnson said. That person got up around 10:30 and looked outside and saw Robert playing with the dogs and also went back to bed.
“So you had both parents and this other responsible adult that felt it was more important to go to sleep and rest and not take care of this child,” Johnson said.
At 11:30 is when the parents finally got out of bed and realized Robert was gone.
Deputies said it was not uncommon for Robert to be unattended, even late at night.
On Friday morning, Lee County deputies were called back to the neighboring property for a domestic violence call at a building that was basically a storage shed, Johnson said.
Lindsey and Holcomb were arrested at that point, the sheriff said. Over 4 grams of meth were taken from Lindsey, and both were charged with one count of felony child neglect and possession of a felony amount of meth, Johnson said.
The sheriff was emotional about the case and what could have gone wrong.
“This case is personal,” Johnson said. “When the responsibility lies on your shoulders that a 5-year-old child is missing and you know that child is helpless, that is an enormous weight to carry.”
Johnson said the search for Robert went on for about 12 hours on Thursday, searchers covered a 2-3 mile radius.
“When you’re searchig for someone that small, there’s no tree that can’t be looked up, no leaf that can’t be turned, no building that can’t be searched, no ditches, no water, there was everything but hills so it took some time to look for this child,” he said.
It was the dogs that were with Robert when he left the home that broke the case, officials said.
“We believed from the very beginning that he was accompanied by two dogs,” said Johnson. “Instead of looking for one individual we were looking for three things.”
Someone on the way to work saw the child and a dog, Johnson said, and she made some calls and found out that a child was missing. Then she called the Sheriff’s Department.
Johnson said he was wet and dehydrated and was wearing no shoes. He was lying in a ditch where he wouldn’t have been seen, but the dogs were visible. Johnson said the dogs saved Robert, almost like an episode of “Lassie.”
Robert was taken to a hospital to be checked out. He is now in a safe foster home and officials are working on where he will go from there.
ORIGINAL POST, 8:01 a.m. Friday:
A release posted by Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson on Facebook early Friday morning says a 5-year-old who went missing Thursday has been found safe.
On Thursday, Lee County deputies were dispatched to a home on CR 711 to investigate a report of a missing child. Robert Holcomb Jr. was described as a 5 year old wearing green pants and a dark color shirt. He was seen last in his back yard playing with his two dogs around 10:30 a.m., Johnson said.
Multiple jurisdictions responded to help in the search for Robert. A ground search, a water search, and an air search were conducted.
Area fire departments, law enforcement agencies, search and rescue teams, and civilian volunteers searched though out the day and into the night, the sheriff said.
Around 10 pm Thursday, 911 received a tip of a small child being spotted with a dog in the Green Street and Highway 45 exit area. A deputy spotted the dogs near a ditch where the child was found. The child was alert, but wet and dehydrated. Medical personal attended to the child and took him to North Mississippi Medical Center for observation purposes.
Johnson said Robert was alert and responding with personnel attending to him prior to being transported.
Child Protective Services was contacted and is currently working the case from a placement end, officials said.
“I can assure you that my office will exhaust all means to hold responsible anyone that acted in any criminal way that resulted in this child being found almost three miles from home,” Johnson said. “I want to personal extend my thanks to all Law Enforcement, Lee Communications, Fire Departments, Search and Rescue Teams, private citizens, and media outlets that assisted in this search. Thank you to the public for helping share the information that resulted in finding this child safely.
“Thank you to the many prayers that were offered. Finding this child safe was our goal and we are thankful it was accomplished.”