Corn mazes are a common business during the Halloween season, offering fun for the whole family. However, when a three-year-old boy was found alone at nightfall in the maze entrance, questions were asked of the parents. They offered a baffling excuse as to why the child was all alone.
The three-year-old in question had been visiting the Crazy Corn Maze, near Salt Lake City, Utah. Although the authorities are still at work determining the details, it appears the little boy had been in the maze with his family. Yet he was found on his own, distraught, in the dark.
The Crazy Corn Maze has been in operation for 19 years, and the mazes have become wonderful and elaborate. This year’s maze was immense, carved into an eight-acre field of corn. Obviously, it’s a complicated maze, and perhaps it is unsurprising that sometimes people get lost.
When a child gets separated from their family, maze workers typically use loudspeakers and bullhorns to track down the guardians. Then, anyone missing a child can return to a specified point and pick up their sheepish youngster. For this reason, personnel who found the boy didn’t worry and just started searching.
Kendall Schmidt, co-owner of the maze, said, “We weren’t in panic mode right away. He was crying and obviously scared… we were trying to calm him down.” The stark reality of the situation didn’t sink in until later, when staff started to realise that the boy’s family couldn’t be found.
Schmidt said, “It became evident that [his family] were not in the maze, so we just kept waiting and hoping that the parents would realize that they left the child.” Under those circumstances, staff waited patiently for half an hour, but the family still did not show up to collect the child.
Consequently, the little boy spent the evening in the care of the authorities. It wasn’t until the next morning, at around 7:45 a.m., that the boy’s mother noticed his absence and called the police. She explained over the phone that she realized she might have lost the boy in the maze overnight.
When asked how they managed to leave the three-year-old behind, the parents offered their strange excuse. It begins with the fact that apparently the polygamous father has fourteen children in total, eleven of whom visited the maze. There were three extra kids too – cousins of the main family.
Although the father, Robert, was not present at the time, he explained the story to authorities. Allegedly, after touring the maze, the large family had gotten into their cars to go home. At that point, the three-year-old child had been buckled in with the other little ones.
Suddenly, one of their older boys asked the mother if they could go get a free donut, offered back at the maze. Several kids went along, leaving Robert’s wife to wait for them in the car for 15 minutes. Robert said, “During that 15 minutes, [the little boy] must have jumped out.”
In due time, the other kids returned to the parking lot, and the family left in multiple vehicles. Once they got home, they watched a scary movie together. At the time, nobody noticed that the three-year-old was missing, assuming that he’d gone to sleep with some of the others.
Following the movie, Robert’s sister-in-law took her three children home. By the time Robert returned home from work it was about 9:30 in the evening. He told journalists that this was an unusual evening, and that on a normal night the family would have noticed the boy’s absence.
The child spent the night in the care of the Division of Child and Family Services, so was safe and sound. The next morning his parents realized he was gone, so came to pick him up. Despite their mistake, the parents are not currently facing charges.
Robert, the father, said, “I’m mostly relieved. It’s nice that there were people there that were able to help. The first outcome that we want is for him to be OK and safe. It was an oversight that we learned a lot from.”
Although this may be true, not everyone involved was so forgiving of their mistake. Sergeant Joe Monson of the local police department said, “The fact that it took so long for them to realize the child was missing – was it purely an accident? What were the circumstances? These are all questions [investigators] want to ask.”
Regardless of how investigators choose to treat this case, the boy was returned and it’s a happy ending in that sense. One family in Massachusetts had a much harder time in a corn maze. In fact, these poor lost souls ended up calling 911 for help.
In October 2011, Danvers police in Massachusetts received a 911 call from a distressed woman. In the call, she said, “I’m still stuck [in the corn maze]. I don’t see anybody. I am really scared. It’s really dark and we’ve got a 3 week old baby with us.”
The woman, whose name has not been released, continued, “We thought this would be fun. Instead it’s a nightmare. I don’t know what made us do this. It was daytime when we came in. And I never take my daughter out. This is the first time. Never again.”
Eventually, police sent a tracking dog from a K-9 unit to come and find the family. Notably, the dog was able to find the family within minutes. Apparently, the family had actually almost found the exit, and were probably just too disoriented from their ordeal to notice.
Farm owner Bob Connors said, “People like to take their time and we don’t like to rush people out of the maze. Usually we see smiles coming out of the maze. I could understand the family’s concern because they had a little one with them. And I’m sure they won’t be the last family who gets lost in there.”