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Police Charge Uncle of Boy Found Along Roadside

Posted October 3, 2007
Updated October 4, 2007

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— A 3-year-old boy found walking along a road in the Sampson County town of Roseboro was under his uncle's care when he wandered away Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

Roseboro Police Chief Preston Howell Jr. said the uncle, Steve McLellam, had fallen asleep and that Bashaun Frederick wandered away. Neighbor Audrey Buie-Culbreth saw the child walking along East North Street at about noon and called police.

“I said, 'Would you come with me?' I said, 'I'm a safe person. It's OK if you come with me. I wouldn't hurt you,'” Buie-Culbreth said.

“He wouldn't talk. He wouldn't tell us who he was,” Howell said.

Officers had taken Bashaun around to neighborhoods near where he was found, but no one recognized him, Howell said. Also, no one had reported a missing child who matched his description.

That prompted the police department to issue a public plea for information about the boy, who was in custody of local social services workers for about four hours before being identified.

Police interviewed Bashaun's father, Bennie Frederick, shortly after making the information public. The two have since been reunited.

McLellam was charged with misdemeanor child abuse and was released on a $500 bond. He was scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 4.

"The child could have been hit by a car, fallen in a ditch, attacked by dogs, picked up by someone not as nice as Mrs. Culbreth. So, this turned out real well," Howell said.

"Just knowing he's back with his family is enough for me," Buie-Culbreth said.

Bashaun's grandmother told WRAL she intended to go to Roseboro Thursday to thank Howell and Buie-Culbreth for caring for her grandson.