Sex offender busted dropping child off at day care center

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CHILLICOTHE, Mo. – A Missouri registered sex offender is behind bars after trying to drop off his young relative at a child care center.

According to guidelines spelled out by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, registered sex offenders cannot go within 500 feet of any day care or school where kids are present. That rule is clearly spelled out in a list of guideline that sex offenders must sign every 90 days.

The staff at the North Missouri Center for Youth and Families had never seen William Dean Gardner, Jr., his mother, or the 7-year-old boy police say the pair was trying to leave at the facility.

“There's no just drop offs or anything along those lines," said Bailey Phillips with the North Missouri Center for Youth and Families. "I have to have records and permission slip and paperwork all filled out there from the state.”

Police say the staff noticed the little boy getting dropped off at about 1 p.m. Tuesday, then spotted the pair who left him leaving the parking lot.

“He'd never been there they were just dropping the seven year old off out of nowhere,” said Chillicothe Police Detective Jon Maples.

Police showed up, ran plates of the Buick the family was in, and learned Dean has been a registered sex offender in the state of Missouri since 2004.

“He admitted he knew he was not allowed there due to his registered sex offender status and guidelines,” said Maples.

The pair told police they dropped the boy off so they could “go pay bills.”

Day care staff said Gardner never got out of the car, which they say should offer peace of mind to parents.

“They know that their kids are in a safe environment," said Phillips. "They're being watched the whole time.”

The staff feels the pair mistook the place for a center where you can just drop kids off.

“No kids that aren't registered can just come on in and hang out," said Phillips.

Regardless, it was enough to raise concerns for police and land Gardner behind bars.

“The red flags that would go off and my mind are them just trying to dump the kid off at seven years old, he’s never been there," said Maples. "He was in violation of the registry restrictions.”

The boy ended up leaving the center with his grandmother. Police said they weren’t aware of where the boy’s parents were during all of this, but they did say the Missouri Department of Family Services has been notified of the case.