Harrisonville couple charged after toddler found wandering on highway, carrying vape pen

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — A Harrisonville couple is facing charges after their 2-year-old child was found wandering on 291 Highway two separate times.

Shelby Shaffer, 25, faces a felony charge of child endangerment and James Cummins, 26, is charged with felony child endangerment and two counts of abuse or neglect of a child.

On June 18, police responded to the area of Missouri 291 Highway in front of the Harrisonville Inn & Suites on a report of a child waking in the middle of the roadway. Before police could arrive, a passerby moved the boy to a safe area.

Witnesses told investigators that the 2-year-old boy was alone on the highway, without an adult present and was also carrying a vape pen.

Police began knocking on doors at the hotel and eventually located the child’s mother, Shelby Shaffer. Shaffer allegedly told officers that the child “knows better than to go outside” and that when the door is opened, the child usually stays right next to the door. She also admitted to owning the vape pen.

The child’s father, James Cummins, was asleep at the time because he worked overnights, according to Shaffer. She was arrested and the children were released to Cummins.

Investigators contacted the Missouri Children’s Division, who said they were starting an investigation.

Less than a month later, on July 9, police again were called to the area on a report of a child walking in the roadway on 291 Highway in front of the motel. A witness said she stopped and tried honking her horn to attract the attention of an adult, but nobody showed up.

The driver then took the child to a safe location until officers showed up.

Officers noted that the boy was wearing a sagging, overfull diaper. When investigators contacted Cummins, he allegedly made a comment about how the child “better not have gotten out again.”

He allegedly told officers that he was trying to get the kids to sleep when he fell asleep himself. Officers noted that there were clothes, trash, food and dirty dishes on the floor and two bottles of alcohol in a place where children could reach them.

When confronted by officers about the two incidents, Cummins allegedly admitted that he didn’t know how to prevent the child from escaping again.

No court date has been set in either case.

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