Free-Range Kids

5-Year-Old Boy Accidentally Walks to School on Saturday, So Cops Arrested Dad



Olesia Bilkei / Dreamstime

A 5-year-old in Berwick, Pennsylvania, woke his dad up on early a Saturday morning and said it was time to go to school. Daddy told him no, hon, it's Saturday—no school!—and went back to sleep.

Now the dad, Jeffry Wagner, is facing child endangerment charges. Unbeknownst to him, his son continued to get ready for school and ventured out into the chilly day to make his way to the bus stop.

Of course, no bus arrived, so the determined little boy started to walk to school. And then, reports CBS Pittsburgh:

[A] motorist spotted him and called police, who picked up the boy.

Wagner waived a preliminary hearing Thursday and will face the charge in county court.

Because, of course, only the children of criminally negligent parents ever do anything unexpected.

And any child who ventures outside is immediately in such grave danger, no parent should ever allow it, even if they're asleep.

And no cop has ever had anything similar happen to him or her, because it's only abusive, negligent parents who sleep in on Saturday mornings.

Throw the book at that sorry excuse for a papa! And let's hope that someday the child understands that it was thanks to him that daddy is doing time. That'll make the whole family a lot more functional.

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  1. What he should have done was chain the kid up in the basement so he wouldn’t wander off while people were asleep.

    1. Why chain him up in the basement when you could put him to work in your orphan mines? What kind of libertarian are you?

      1. For the kid to be an orphan he’d have to kill the father. A grave transgession of NAP that no true libertarian would perform.

        So the only thing he could do is give the kid on unpaid internship managing the orphans.

        1. maybe Momma has already died, leaving Papa home alone with the kid. You KNOW what goes on when THAT happens.. they even made a movie out of it…..

    2. Don’t be absurd.

      Locked in closets for the formative years is the only acceptable method of juvenile restraint.

      1. Although there’s probably more profit to be made by selling the tyke into male-child-prostitution….
        Go, Pennsyltucky!

    3. Lordy, lordy! Sounds like the old joke back home in Virginia, 1940’s/50’s, ‘The way to raise a boy is to put him in a barrel and feed him through the bung hole. On his 12th birthday, drive in the bung.’
      If you were a Jewish kid, you always added, ‘right after the bar mitzvah.’
      “Today I am a man.” Thunk!

  2. Unfortunately the original article is behind a paywall. But the salient quote is in6 the lede above the paywall banner:

    The father accused of letting his 5-year-old boy walk nearly two miles to school in near-freezing temperatures admitted he went back to sleep after…

    He admitted that he went back to sleep. Admitted.

    That pretty much wraps it up. If he had simply told them that he went back to sleep it would be one thing….. but he blatantly admitted it. So they totally had to arrest him.

    Totality of the circs, yo!

    1. Never talk to the police, no matter how ludicrous the situation initially appears.

      1. Amen! Refuse to answer ANY and ALL questions from officer friendly. It you insist on helping them, in any way, first demand to have an attorney present. It’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s what it’s come to.

    1. +1 Fat Albert

  3. The kid accidentally walked to school? Tripped and happened to roll the 2 miles there?

    1. True… “Accidentally”? NO… he did it Deliberately! On Purpose!

      Stupidly? Sure.
      Disobediently? Yeah, ok.
      Ignorantly? Could be.
      Naively? Maybe…

      But “Accidentally”?! Stupid lede.

  4. But what about the schools responsibility, shouldn’t staff and teachers been available for this small mind who just wanted to learn. Instead they were taking a day off.

    And the police failed in their duty, they allowed this child to wonder the streets until a civilian reported it. A civilian!

    1. A colossal failure of what really should have been a solid team effort.

      1. We need a cop on every corner of every street to prevent this type of dangerous situation from EVER occurring again.

  5. Back when I was a kid, the great Khan of the Golden Horde would have laid waste to this man’s entire village to make an example of him for his intransigence. Arrested? Ha! He should count himself lucky.

  6. So where’s the mother?

    1. It’s always a white man’s fault!

      1. +1 mtv

  7. There is definitely someone guilty of child endangerment here…

  8. Oh, FFS! I’m so glad my folks didn’t end up in prison because of *me* being a little kid.

  9. We used to miss the bus on purpose so that we could walk to school.

    1. I like Homer Hickam’s acc’t (in The Rocket Boys) of sledding to school over 2 mtns.

  10. You know maybe if we enacted just a few more thousand laws, total bliss could be reached: a SWAT team on every corner, someone killed every day for resisting, and more prisons.

    *Buddha sigh*

  11. Well, you made the police do something, so somebody had to be a criminal.

  12. Thugs will be thugs.

  13. “Wagner waived a preliminary hearing Thursday and will face the charge in county court”

    Well, I’m going to keep beating this drum: This case shows why serious criminal charges should be vetted by a grand jury, whose concurrence should be required before the suspect is brought to trial.

    Pennsylvania has exempted itself from the Grand Jury Clause of the Fifth Amendment. So prosecutors can decide whether to use a grand jury or a preliminary hearing (“also sometimes referred to as a probable cause hearing”), which uses a judge and not a grand jury.

    I don’t know why this guy didn’t want a preliminary hearing, but I can certainly see the differences with a grand jury.

    A judge at a preliminary hearing would be hearing evidence against some plebe for behavior which the judge himself (herself) wouldn’t have to worry about being charged with. If a judge’s kid, rather than a plebe’s kid, were found walking around in the snow on Saturday morning, and the sleepy judge explained to the cop that the kid just wandered off despite a warning, the cop would have said “OK, Your Honor, sorry to bother you, go back to sleep.” So lacking the necessary empathy, the judge might well let the plebe go to trial, especially if it looks good on the ol’ resume come election time.

    But grand jurors can more easily see themselves in the plebe’s shoes – “you mean *we* might get dragged into court for oversleeping?” Which would reduce the chance of an indictment.

    1. Sure, if you can’t get an indictment just modify the process. Easy peasy.

      Shouldn’t be legal but sometimes you have to break the law to enforce the law I guess?

      1. The thing is, these non-grand-jury alternatives are touted as “fairer” than the grand jury.

        Nothing in the Constitution requires grand juries to have sweeping subpoena powers, or to leave suspects in the dark about their operations, or to ignore exculpatory evidence which a suspect (or member of the public) sends in; but because the statutes allow these abuses, then the answer is supposedly to throw the baby out with the bathwater and skip the grand jury altogether.

        1. Then you get busted for child abuse yourself . . . . .

    2. right on! anyway, the reason you waive a preliminary hearing in Pennsylvania is that it’s heard by a magistrate, not even a real judge, who is probably half retarded. And they always buy your waiver with a reduction or continuation in bail. Since the magistrates office is an absolutely pointless holdover from the long past, save your efforts for the real court.

      The thing is even without a grand jury English law always permitted a charge by information to the court.

  14. Sounds like a foster home run by nonblood relatives, completely disinterested parties if not for a paycheck, will be best for this kid. Good job cops and a shoutout to the prosecutor, let’s not forget him.

  15. Maybe the school week should extend to Saturdays if this kid can’t even read a calendar yet.

    1. and Sundays, too, just so That day doesn’t also become A Problem…

  16. In 10 years when this kid refuses to go to school, the dad’s going to be in trouble again and they’ll use his history of child endangerment against him.

  17. I blame CBS Pittsburgh in all of this. If they just put cartoons on Saturday mornings still, this never would have happened.

  18. In PA, child endangerment was recently “upgraded” from misdemeanor to felony, good for about 7 years time. But in order for the charges to lead to a conviction and the father doing time, the DA would have to show that the father “placed” his child into an endangering or life-threatening situation. IN other words, these charges aren’t going anywhere except into the pockets of the father, to extract most of his life savings in his defense.

  19. You know who else got into trouble by oversleeping?

    1. Rip van Winkle?

    2. Prince Edmund, Duke of Edinborough?

  20. Literally every episode of Leave it to Beaver involves criminal neglect and child endangerment by today’s standards.

  21. What sucks here is we don’t know much about the person who spotted the boy. They could be a busybody, or they could be someone who normally would just talk to the boy but was scared of being seen and having someone call the cops on them for being a child kidnapper.

  22. “Officer Friendly” would have just put the 5-year old in the back seat, and driven him first to the school (“See, it’s closed because it’s Saturday”) and then home where his anxious parents would have been overly thankful for his service (as in “To Protect and Serve”).
    Whatever happened to “Officer Friendly”?

    1. He got sent to the new training program: “There are two important things you need to know about being a police officer: 1) Never let anyone disrespect you, no matter who you have to kill. 2) Make sure you go home alive at the end of your shift, no matter who you have to kill. 3) Shoot the dog.”

      1. OK, that’s three things. “There are three important things….”

        1. That’s ok; most cops aren’t that smart and wouldn’t have caught that.

  23. Our law makers and cops are a bunch of heartless, brain-dead, holier-than-thou scumbags!! That’s all I’ve got to say ’bout that!! It’s so easy to judge everyone from the sidelines!! I hope the same things happen to every idiot that plays any role in this dad’s malicious prosecution. The problem with families today is nanny big government needs to realize it doesn’t know better than the parents and butt out of the family and let parents raise their kids and discipline them effectively with the rod of correction to the seat of learning.

  24. I don’t understand the pathological need to criminalize parents over situations like this!! I guess the more people who are criminalized and have records, the less people there are who can legally buy a gun!! If the gov’t can’t get totalitarian control of the populace one way, they’ll play as dirty as they have to in order to achieve their malevolent ends.

    1. BOOM!!! You “blew it” by some crusty ol schoolmarm’s “standards” so you will never own a gun again. Just a matter of time till we’re all felons, I guess…..

      but WHO will run the asylum once this happens? Felons can’t run asyla, either…..

      1. EXCELLENT job on the plural form!

  25. Must be truly wonderful to live in an area where the forces of law and order have no real work to do, like catching real criminals for instance.

  26. Hopefully the State Attorney General will launch an investigation of the police department and any child services agency or prosecutors involved. I would love to see those pushing this issue arrested for abuse. Can you image how bad this poor kid must feel. That his actions may cause him to be taken from his family and the pain he caused.

    Until responsible people in government hold the authoritarian abusers responsible this type of overreach will continue.

    I’m no Trump fan, but I have heard that his election is bringing back authoritarianism. The right is NOT the danger for authoritarianism in this country. It is the left. And, as long as this story is true as reported, this is a great example.

    1. I don’t think this is a right-left issue. I’m on the left and I oppose this. I’m sure most of my left-wing friends would oppose this also. I think this is a matter of people who have experience raising kids vs. people who have no clue and no empathy for parents.

  27. When my son was three, he unlocked the front door, walked down the street and into a drug store we often walked to together. Once there, he went straight to the toy aisle to play with the toys. I know this because one day after getting out of the bathroom after using the toilet, I found a chair in front of the open front door (not realizing he knew how to unlock the front door). He is my oldest, so being my first kid I was really in a panic and was frantically searching for him and calling his name. Then I see him walking toward me holding a young woman’s hand. She was a cashier from the drug store who was kind enough to walk him home. As I was crying and thanking her she told me where she found him and what he was doing! So yeah, I really feel for this guy. We had to change the lock on the door so I could go to the bathroom by myself without our son darting out of the house. It’s not right to arrest every parent whose kid plays Houdini.

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