Parents face charges after neighbor finds toddler alone on his back porch

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Chris Ricks is the proud dad of a happy three-year-old girl, who he'd never let wander around alone. That's why he was concerned when he saw a two-year-old boy by himself Friday morning.

"I went out on the front porch, just to see what the weather was like for the morning. I saw the kid in the field next to the house over this way and I thought he maybe belonged to somebody over there," said Ricks.

Ricks kept getting ready for work, but a few minutes later he heard a noise.

"He had made his way to my back porch trying to push my daughter's little pink power wheel car off the porch to play with it," said Ricks.

Ricks said the boy wasn't wearing much -

"He was only wearing a shirt and a diaper that was past full. I mean, it was definitely to the point where it was almost dropping off of him," said Ricks.

He said the toddler had an open wound on his foot.

"It was probably the size of a nickel maybe. Just pussing and had opened back up," said Ricks.

Ricks couldn't find the boy's parents. Deputies eventually found them down the road inside their unlocked home. Tracy McMahan and Anthony Hardwick are charged with child abuse and neglect.

Hardwick's cousim, Austin Hardwick, said the incident was blown out of proportion. He said the boy's parents didn't know he was gone because they hadn't woken up yet.

"He snuck out - he unlocked the door and he snuck out," said Austin Hardwick.

Hardwick said that explains the dirty diaper.

"He was changed the night before - she doesn't go without changing her kids, you know. So he woke up, and of course the kid is going to have a diaper that's going to sag when he first wakes up," said Hardwick.

As for his foot:

"Kids get injuries. I mean, she had put antibiotic ointment on it, wrapped it and everything," said Hardwick.

DCS took the two-year-old and his older brother into custody.

McMahan and Hardwick are free on bond.


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