The Florida mother of a nine-week-old baby boy whose body was found buried in a shallow grave in the woods was charged with her son’s murder, officials said.
Kristen Bury, 32, was charged with first-degree felony murder and child neglect in the killing of her infant son, Chance Walsh, who had been missing for more than a month when his body was found in a wooded area less than 13 miles from their home, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Bury and Chance’s father, Joseph Walsh, allegedly told detectives that Chance had died early September 16 in their North Port home, almost two weeks after the tot had last been seen alive by his grandparents, the affidavit said.
Police said Bury directed detectives to gravesite of the baby, whose remains were found in a covered hole wearing only a diaper. Also found in the hole was a fragment of blue surgical gloves that were believed to be worn by Walsh, the affidavit said.
Though there has not yet been a positive identification of the body, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight told reporters he’s “confident that it is Chance.”
The cause of the child’s death was not yet released.
Walsh allegedly told police that he and Bury “were going to start a new life somewhere else” when they left Florida on September 27 and were subsequently involved in a car crash in South Carolina, the affidavit said.
Chance’s maternal grandmother first reported him missing after his Bury and Walsh, who are reportedly long-time drug users with a criminal history, repeatedly lied about their son’s whereabouts, telling as many as three different accounts of what happened to the baby, authorities said.
Bury and Walsh were first arrested in South Carolina and were charged with child neglect as police searched for the infant. Bury was extradited on Friday to Sarasota County, Florida.
She made her first appearance in court on Saturday, keeping her head down for most of the proceedings. Bury was held on $150,000 bond for the child neglect charge and no bond for the murder charge.
Bury has not yet entered a plea. Information for Bury’s attorney was not available.
Officials could not immediately confirm if Walsh would also be charged in Chance’s murder, but said he will be extradited from South Carolina.
This is the second infant Bury and Walsh have lost, as the couple’s two-week-old son, Duane, died in 2014, according to reports. Neighbors at the time questioned whether dogs had killed the baby, but Bury said he likely died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Bury allegedly told her step-mother that she "despised" Chance "because he was not Duane," according to an affidavit. "I loved that baby. I can't take care of him," Bury told her step-mother, the affidavit said.
The Florida Department of Children and Families noted in a statement that the department did not have any prior investigation involving Chance, but it had “multiple past interactions with Joseph Walsh, including the removal of seven children from his custody."
“The murder of Chance Walsh is absolutely heartbreaking ... In the wake of this tragedy, DCF has immediately begun an internal quality assurance review. The review will include all the interactions that Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury have had with the agency to determine what, in addition to the previous removal of all children in Mr. Walsh’s custody, could have been done to prevent this tragedy," Mike Carroll, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, said in the statement.