When a two-year-old went missing in southern Mississippi, local deputies searched for hours trying to find the infant. Although they found some of the boy’s footprints, they also found the tracks of something else. As a result, they suspected that the autistic boy was not traveling alone.
William Odom, from Saucier, Mississippi, was reported missing by his parents about 10 a.m. Subsequently, Harrison County deputies began searching to try and find the boy. In view of the boy’s autism, it was important that he be found quickly.
In this case, it was challenging for deputies, since they had little information to go on. First, the boy had gone missing about 7:30 in the morning. Despite her being at home, mother Chelsea Noble claimed the boy must have wandered out, clad in just his diaper.
Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said, “Our greatest concern was he was two years old and he was lost. With the autism, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t hear us. He couldn’t answer us. He couldn’t make noises so we could hear him.”
The sheriff continued, “We didn’t know if he was going to drown in the creek or come in contact with an animal that would hurt him or a stray dog.” This was likely in the minds of the searching deputies, particularly when they saw the tracks that ran alongside the boy’s footprints.
But when the deputies found the boy, they solved the mystery of the extra footprints. They found the little boy in a truck, about a quarter mile away from home. The family dog, which had stayed with him the whole time, even as the toddler slept, was with him.
Sheriff Peterson said, “Every time we found [William Odom’s] footprint, we found the dog footprint right beside him. So the dog traveled with him all day. When the little boy was found the dog was still circling the truck and scratching on the truck.”
In fact, it was not the deputies who found the missing William, it was another local child. Blake Carroll jumped off the school bus at the end of the day and found the autistic boy. William had been inside Blake’s uncle’s truck, and was sounding the horn to draw attention.
Sheriff Peterson said, “His uncle came over and forced the window down. And took the kid out and brought him to us… [the boy] was inside the truck apparently sleeping. His back… he had a bunch of stripes on his back that matched up to the seams in the truck. So we’re thinking he was just in the truck sleeping.”
Apparently, the truck in question was at the uncle’s property and isn’t actually running currently. However, it was a white Nissan Frontier, with its door just the right height for young William Odom to get into the truck. The doors must have locked automatically as he clambered in.
Subsequently, the schoolchild who discovered William Odom was rewarded for his good work. As a matter of fact, Blake Carroll was given a special treat for lunch the next day, a hamburger from a local restaurant. The spokeswoman for Harrison County School District said, “Blake showed great responsibility.”
Local journalists captured the relief for the family when the boy was found. Asked about the moment she reunited with the child, Chelsea Noble said, “They’ve got my baby. That was all I could think of. They’ve got my baby. I was happy. My kids are my life. I wouldn’t change them for the world.”
After William Odom and the dog were found unharmed, deputies were relieved. Sheriff Peterson said, “It’s an amazing story. We’re very thankful that he is in good health. And we brought him home to his family.”
Although this may be true, it isn’t the end or even the start of this story. Surprisingly, this wasn’t actually the first time that William Odom had gone missing. Once before, the sheriff’s office had been asked to help find the little boy.
Whereas this time he was found in a truck, William Odom had been found about 200 yards from the same exact location the previous occasion he went missing. Sheriff Peterson said, “The first time, we got a call that he was down near the bridge.”
Under those circumstances, authorities had little choice but to charge Chelsea Noble with misdemeanor child neglect. It was alleged that she had not been adequately supervising the child, especially in light of the boy’s autism and increased need for care.
Sheriff Peterson explained to journalists that Noble’s children, including William, had been taken into custody. Additionally, Noble was taken to Harrison County jail. Consequently, Noble faces a $1,500 bail bond while she awaits a court date.
Before she was arrested, though, Chelsea Noble was effusive in her praise for the loyal dog who had watched her son. Noble said, “[The dog, called Jezebel] saved my baby. Ever since she was a puppy, they’ve always been close.”
Noble continued, “He loves being with her, he loves bathing her, that’s his dog. After this, I believe there’s no changing that part. She saved my baby. Her and that little boy saved his life.” The little boy she was referring to was Blake Carroll.
Although William Odom is with the Mississippi Department of Human Services, his mother can take heart in the fact he is safe and sound. In other words, he is safe thanks to Jezebel, his loyal dog. The Miami Herald offered this line, “Not all heroes wear capes… this one wears a leash.”