"After more than 6 hours of searching on foot, a deputy heard the faint cry of a baby," the Missoula County Sheriff's Office said

By Alexia Fernandez
July 09, 2018 08:00 PM

A 5-month-old baby was rescued after a man allegedly buried it in the wilderness of the Montana mountains.

Francis Carlton Crowley, 32, was arrested after he allegedly buried the baby facedown underneath a pile of sticks and other debris near Lolo Hot Springs, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.

Deputies were initially called to the area by witnesses who said a man was “acting strange” and “threatening people saying he had a gun.”

When the deputies arrived, they found that Crowley had left the area and a baby, who was left in his care, “had not been seen for several hours,” according to their release.

Crowley soon returned to the hot springs and he was arrested. When deputies questioned him “he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was not making sense to officers,” according to the release.

He allegedly told police that the baby, who has not been identified, “was possibly buried somewhere in the mountains,” which led deputies to send out a search party.

A 5-month-old baby was found buried alive in Montana
Missoula County Sheriff's Office

“After more than 6 hours of searching on foot, a deputy heard the faint cry of a baby,” the release said.

The deputy “followed the sound and found the baby alive, face down, buried under a pile of sticks and debris.” The baby was found wearing a “wet and soiled onesie” at about 2:30 a.m. in 46-degree weather “for a minimum of 9 hours.”

“The baby was transported to a local hospital and is in good condition,” authorities said in the release.

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Francis Carlton Crowley
Missoula County Sheriff's Office

Crowley was taken into custody and is currently being held at the Missoula County Detention Facility on charges of criminal endangerment.

“For all of us at the sheriffs [sic] office, this is what we call a miracle,” the release said. “For the officers who were present for this event, it’s especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours. Sheriff McDermott would like to thank those who assisted in the search and those who called 911, helping first responders bring this baby to safety.”

It is not clear if Crowley has retained an attorney.