Mother of boy found walking alone waives, hopes for ARD
MOUNT CARMEL - The mother of a 7-year-old boy who was found three times walking barefoot by himself on Route 487 and Spruce Street in Elysburg left the courtroom of Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones in tears Wednesday afternoon after waiving her right to a preliminary hearing in an effort to become eligible for the county Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program for first-time offenders.
Debbie Ann Lisiewicz, 38, of 153 Spruce St., Elysburg, told Jones she understood the ramifications of forfeiting her right to a hearing on a felony of endangering the welfare of children, a misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of children and a misdemeanor of recklessly endangering another person.
Lisiewicz, who was represented by Northumberland County Public Defender Paige Rosini, hopes to reach an agreement with the district attorney's office to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor and then apply for the ARD program, which is available for non-violent, first-time offenders. If Lisiewicz, who has no prior criminal record, becomes eligible for the program and successfully completes it, she could have the charges expunged.
Lisiewicz, who is free on $10,000 bail, cried as she exited the courtroom.
The charges filed by Ralpho Township Cpl. Bryon Chowka relate to incidents that occurred Oct. 7 on the highway (West Valley Avenue) near Spruce Street, Oct. 20 in the 200 block of Spruce Street, and Dec. 8 on Spruce Street near West Center Street.
According to a criminal complaint, Ralpho Township Officer Chris Dailey responded to the Oct. 7 incident involving Lisiewicz's son walking without shoes at about 3:30 p.m. Police said the child was unsupervised and wearing a pair of jeans and a short-sleeve T-shirt.
Police said personnel from Northumberland County Children and Youth Services were contacted about the incident and responded to the township police department. At about 4:50 p.m., police said Lisiewicz contacted Northumberland County Communications Center to report her child missing. She later came to the police station and identified the child as her son, who is autistic.
At about 9:40 a.m. Oct. 20, Ralpho Township Chief of Police Stuart Appel observed the unsupervised child walking on the road in the 200 block of Spruce Street without shoes. The child was returned to his mother, who said they just moved and didn't have enough door locks.
Jeff Crowl told police he was traveling on Spruce Street toward West Center Street between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Dec. 8 when he observed an unsupervised child standing on Spruce Street wearing only a diaper and T-shirt. Crowl said he attempted to communicate with the boy so he could find out where he lived, but the child had difficulty speaking. Crowl said he led the boy from the road and approached a nearby house where Crowl's son, who was with him, believed the child lived. Crowl said a frantic woman inside the home, who was later identified as Lisiewicz, answered the door and immediately stated, "Nobody called the cops, did they?"
Crowl later reported the incident.
Lisiewicz told police her son was able to exit the home through a kitchen door and basement door, respectively, on the second and third occasions.