The future of Bryan Allen, a 3-year-old boy who was abandoned last week by a suspected shoplifter and went unclaimed and unidentified for five days, remains unclear. State Department of Human Services officials would not say Thursday whether the boy remained in state custody. They deviated from their normal policy of not commenting on specific cases Wednesday when, in cooperation with Oklahoma City police, they distributed photos and information about Bryan to enlist help from the public in identifying the boy. Police said officers located and arrested the man who abandoned the child Aug. 24 at an Oklahoma City Wal-Mart. Thursday afternoon, police arrested Morris James McCaskill, 28, on complaints of child neglect, larceny of merchandise and three separate felony warrants for violation of a suspended sentence, police Master Sgt. Gary Knight said in a news release. Police said McCaskill is a friend of Bryan's mother.
Bryan's sagaBryan was riding in a shopping cart at the Wal-Mart, 6100 W Reno Ave., when store security personnel tried to stop a man they suspected of shoplifting, according to a police report. The man, whom police identify as McCaskill, ran, leaving Bryan behind. DHS took Bryan into custody at the scene, but he couldn't fully identify himself to investigators. No one approached police about Bryan until late Wednesday after intense media coverage, sparked by the release of his picture and story. Three women, relatives of Bryan, went to Oklahoma City police headquarters about 5:20 p.m. Wednesday to identify Bryan. The women told The Oklahoman they did not know Bryan was missing until a person who saw a picture of the boy in media reports called and alerted them.
What's next?DHS Communications Director George Johnson said Bryan would be in state custody until a judge in Oklahoma County decides otherwise. Johnson would not say if that has already happened. Officials at the Oklahoma County district attorney's office, the Oklahoma City Police Department and the Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice Center said they don't know or would not say who has custody of Bryan. Mary Leaver, a DHS spokeswoman, also would not say whether Bryan remained in state custody, but told The Oklahoman how a DHS investigation of Bryan's abandonment would continue. "The case worker probably is going to be doing her own investigation to look into what were the circumstances that contributed to that child being left in the store, (and) what the family situation (is), if any,” Leaver said. "She's probably going to be looking into that home environment. ... They do an extensive investigation to make sure that that home environment is in the best interest of the child. She's probably going to be talking to a lot of people in the coming days.” Leaver said in a normal investigation in a situation similar to Bryan's, a case worker would present the findings to the district attorney's office. "They'll look at that (the findings), take it into consideration, and they'll work together then to determine what the next course of action is going to be, whether a family might have to go to court (to get the child back),” Leaver said. "They're going to be looking at a lot of different options, and together they'll reach a determination of what's going to happen.” Leaver said options include the state keeping custody of the child, placing the child in foster care or returning the child to the family. "It's not a process that's going to happen overnight,” Leaver said.
Arrested man has criminal historyThe man police arrested in Bryan's abandonment has run afoul of the law before, court records show. In June 2005, McCaskill pleaded guilty to felony charges of drug possession with intent to distribute, uttering bogus checks and concealing stolen property, court records show. In August 2006, prosecutors accused McCaskill of having violated the terms of the five-year suspended sentence he received in the 2005 case. Prosecutors filed an application to revoke the suspended sentence. A warrant was issued for McCaskill's arrest. He had been free as a fugitive until his arrest on Thursday.