1st Anniversary of Evelyn Boswell's Amber Alert Marks Long Search for Justice in the Baby's Killing
An Amber Alert was issued one year ago for 15-month-old Evelyn Boswell in a case that would captivate the nation and beyond.
One year ago, the public first learned that a 15-month-old toddler named Evelyn Boswell had disappeared from her hometown in rural Tennessee.
An Amber Alert was issued Feb. 19 by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which had been notified the day before that the baby was missing.
But the detail that stunned law enforcement, and would captivate people around the world, was the fact that Evelyn had been missing for two months by the time someone contacted authorities.
And it was Evelyn's own grandfather who contacted children's services in February, saying no one in his family had laid eyes on the baby since Thanksgiving.
"I don't know what happened, but I'm the one who called DCS and got this started," Tommy Boswell Sr. told a local station at the time. "I ain't slept nights. I've cried like a baby. I just want my grandbaby to come home."
Evelyn's mother, Megan Boswell, then 18, was arrested six days later on charges of giving false reports to the authorities who were investigating her daughter's disappearance. Detectives said the teen mother gave a dizzying array of conflicting information about who last had custody of her daughter — from the child's biological father, to Evelyn's maternal grandmother, to an unnamed babysitter.
“The reason I didn’t report it or anything was I knew the person who had her, and I didn’t want them to run away with her,” Boswell told a local station two days after Evelyn was reported missing. "I’m just kinda worried, you know, about where they are at. What they’re doing with her at this point in time.”
On Feb. 26, the day after Megan's arrest, local authorities held a press conference and were blunt in their assessment of the mother's statements.
"Every time we talk to her, her story changes. I'm serious when I say that every single time," said Capt. Andrew Seabolt of the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
The search for Evelyn would cross state lines, encompass several properties and a pond. More than 700 tips poured into a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation hotline — so many that state officials finally asked for people to stop reporting visions, psychic readings and personal theories about Evelyn's location because they were wasting the time of investigators and telephone operators.
On a cold March night, underneath a shed on the property of Evelyn's grandfather, the child's remains were found, along with toys, diapers and clothing. One aspect of Megan's statements rang true, authorities would later say. Her child's body was clad in a pink running suit, which is what her mother said she was wearing when she disappeared.
And with that discovery, and a positive identification of the remains as belonging to Evelyn, public information about the case dried up. Most documents in the criminal court file, including the toddler's autopsy and cause of death, remain under seal.
It wasn't until Aug. 19 that Evelyn's mother was charged with her death.
Megan Boswell, now 19, is charged with two counts of felony murder. She also faces one count each of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and failure to report a death under suspicious, unusual or unnatural circumstances, as well as 12 counts of making false reports to investigators.
She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
She remains behind bars in lieu of $1 million bail.
In November, prosecutors announced they would not seek the death penalty against her.
That decision was based on legal precedent, they said.
A prior ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2001 had overturned the death penalty for a man convicted of killing an infant, partly based on the fact he had no prior convictions. He was eventually sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors cited that case in saying they will seek a life sentence against Boswell, who also has no prior criminal record, to avoid a similar appellate ruling.
The woman's attorney, Brad Sproles, said he wasn’t surprised by state's decision.
“There’s some case law that would work against them,” he told a local station. Asked if Megan was relieved, he replied, “Probably, yeah. I’m sure she’s not happy about the possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison though,” Sproles said.
Her next court appearance is scheduled for May 14 — 450 days after an Amber Alert was issued for baby Evelyn Boswell.
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