Police have arrested a New Jersey mom who allegedly walked her 10-year-old special needs son into the woods with his luggage and then abandoned him there, PEOPLE confirms.
Debra Wisler, 39, of Millville, was charged with endangering the life of a child in the alleged August 3 incident, according to a statement from the New Jersey State Police.
Detectives who interviewed her determined Wisler allegedly abandoned her son in the wooded area after learning he was ineligible to enroll in a child program at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, an Air Force base, say police.
“He was her life, and I just can’t believe it,” said Barbara Todd, who served as a teacher’s aide in the boy’s kindergarten and first grade classes, reports CBS Philly.
“She got him involved in everything that she could and all services are available to him and her,” Todd said. “I can’t even talk, I’m just still so shocked.”
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A reporter who approached Wisler on Tuesday was stopped before the mother was asked to explain her actions, reports WPVI in Philadelphia.
“I don’t want my business all out there,” Wisler said from her porch. “Just please leave the property.”Police say a passing motorist saw the boy in the wooded area near the visitor’s center at the military base, and then the motorist contacted military personnel.
Authorities located and brought the boy to the visitor’s center, giving him food, water and a medical evaluation by first responders that determined he had sustained minor, non-life-threatening injuries.
The boy was able to give his mother’s name and phone number to workers at the visitor’s center, and the workers then contacted Wisler.
The boy told them she had walked with him into the woods with his luggage and then left him behind when she left. He said he fell asleep but later woke up hungry, according to police.
Wisler was arrested on August 4 but released pending a court date. She has not yet been arraigned and she does not yet have a lawyer.
State police took custody of the boy before contacting the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency, which located a temporary home for the child.