Meth-addicted mother and boyfriend charged after missing three-year-old is found dead in Virginia river
A Virginia mother and her boyfriend have been arrested in connection with the disappearance of her three-year-old daughter.
Deputies from the Wythe County Sheriff's Office (WSCO) received a call concerning a missing three-year-old female child, identified as Josie Burleson, at approximately 7:28 pm on Tuesday, July 9, according to a press release.
When deputies from WCSO responded to the location, a residence at 290 Rocky Hollow Road, they were told by the child's mother, 45-year-old Kimberly Dawn Moore, and her boyfriend, 45-year-old Adrian Neil Puckett, that Josie was playing outside near the New River Trail and wandered off.
However, they soon uncovered that the location of 290 Rocky Hollow Road was a rental house and that the couple was only visiting, with their actual residence located at 246 Rocky Hollow Road.
The rental house was just 150 yards off the New River, and a search was conducted within minutes of the first responders' arrival to the scene, stated the press release.
WCSO officers were assisted by the Lead Mines Rescue Squad, Virginia State Police, New River Trail Police, Virginia Conservation Police, Wytheville Police Department, Pulaski Fire Department, and Black Diamond Search and Rescue.
Over 100 searchers were looking for Josie in the fields, trails, and in the water, but after more than five-and-a-half hours, they were met with a tragic discovery.
A little after 1 am on July 10, searchers found the body of the missing three-year-old in the New River.
Moore and Puckett were subsequently arrested and charged with felony, child neglect, reckless disregard for life, and felony child endangerment. Both are being held at the New River Regional Jail without bond.
Authorities are still investigating the death and said Moore and Plunkett both tested positive for methamphetamines.
Speaking about the case, WCSO Sheriff Keith Dunagan told PEOPLE, "They are both meth users," he said, adding that they did not know how long Josie had been missing before her disappearance was reported because the couple "was on meth and they made two or three different statements."
"Wythe County is a rural community," he continued. "It’s a close-knit group and this is going to affect a large part of the community."
More charges could be pending depending on the results of the ongoing investigation.