For two days, Hampshire Constabulary were puzzled that nobody called to report that a fat little boy found alone Saturday night at a Herman-Melville chip shop was missing.
"Chips" and "pop" was virtually all that officers could get him to say. Only after he was turned over to Hampshire Child Protective Services did investigators come to believe his name was Dennis and that he is seven years old.On Monday, his parents and the child's grandmother became terrified after learning the fat little boy wasn't in the care of any family members following his own birthday party apparently due to a misunderstanding.
Now, the Herman-Melville Police will try to determine whether the parents should face neglect charges.
Staff at Frank’s Chips, noticed the unattended boy in the shop shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday, approximately 3 hours after his party ended, police said. Workers asked patrons if they knew the identity of the fat little boy wearing lime green underpants and gym shoes, or whether they saw him with anybody. With nobody there to claim the boy, a woman phoned police.
"He was just sitting eating chips in the shop," P.C. Vernon Torey said.
The boy did not appear upset or frightened but he said little to officers.
"He could not tell us who dropped him off," P.C. Torey said. "That was amazing.
'More chips' and 'more pop' was all we could get out of him."
Puzzled investigators turned him over to Hampshire Child Protective Services.
Hoping to learn more about his identity and that of his parents or guardians, Hampshire Constabulary issued an alert to other police departments over the weekend. That provided no clues or reports of anyone filing a report of a missing child who matched the description of the fat little boy.
At approximately 1:15 p.m. Monday, Hampshire Constabulary received a call from Frank’s Chips that a frantic man claiming to be the boy's father was in the chip shop, and that the worried mother had phoned. Police interviewed the parents, who live apart in Herman-Melville, and each thought the other — or the boy's grandmother — would take care of him for the rest of the weekend after his own party.
"One thought the other was taking him home," P.C. Torey said. "Both have been cooperative (with investigators). Both are upset this happened."
For now, the seven year-old, named "Heffer," remains in foster care.
"As soon as we realized he had no more money, we immediately called the police. We'll continue to cooperate with the authorities as needed," said Kathryn Oldham, wife of Frank Oldham of Frank’s Chips.