Police locate missing 7-year-old West Valley boy; stepfather arrested for allegedly leaving him unattended
WEST VALLEY CITY — A 7-year-old boy was reunited with his mother after being missing for more than 8 hours Thursday, but the boy's stepfather has been arrested.
Police were called around noon Thursday after Christopher Laguna was reported by his family to be missing in West Valley. The boy's stepfather, 22-year-old Florencio Jeronimo, initially told police the boy had been playing in the area of 3600 South and 1950 West around 11 a.m. while his family ran errands. When his family returned to check up on him, he was gone, said West Valley City Police Sgt. Mike Powell.
Police started searching around 12:30 p.m. with detectives, a forensics team and search dogs, and at 8:35 p.m., police received a tip about his location.
The tip led police to an apartment complex near 3500 South and 4000 West — more than two miles away from where Laguna was reported missing — where he was found by himself.
After interviewing family members, Jeronimo was arrested for investigation of child abuse, obstruction of justice, giving false information to police and a warrant for driving under the influence.
"Christopher was intentionally left unattended by his stepfather," Powell said. "The boy walked that distance, through hazards, heat, vehicles and traffic, by himself. Hence, the extreme concern."
Police believe the boy was familiar with the apartment complex and might have been drawn there by other children or something else.
Despite the long ordeal, the ending was somewhat happy. Laguna was reunited with his mother and they shared a "very warm and lengthy embrace," Powell said.
Laguna was slightly dehydrated from the ordeal but police say he will be fine.
— Lana Groves
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