Florida Mom Whose 9-Week-Old Baby Has Been Missing for a Month Was a 'Little Off,' Friend Tells PEOPLE

Police are desperately searching for 9-week-old Chance Walsh, who was last seen a month ago

Photo: Sarasota Sherriff

Kristen Bury, the 32-year-old mother who was charged with child neglect after her 9-week-old son was revealed to be missing, always seemed a “little off,” a friend tells PEOPLE exclusively.

Bury is currently being held in South Carolina with her boyfriend, Joseph Walsh, 36, while police search for their infant son Chance – who hasn’t been seen since Sept. 9 – in North Port, Florida, where the couple has a home.

“Everybody’s trying to find him,” the friend says. “Everybody’s put up fliers.” But while the small community hopes for the best, they’re preparing for the worst. “To physically harm a baby ” the friend says, trailing off with a sob. “I just can’t.”

Police were first alerted that Chance was missing after his grandmother called authorities to report that she hadn’t seen him in a nearly a month. She also said that Bury and Walsh had allegedly told relatives contradictory stories to explain his absence, “including that the child was unharmed, that he died in [a car] crash and that they gave him to a woman at a hotel in Georgia,” according to a police press release.

A search of the couple’s home turned up bloodstains and evidence of blood splatter on the walls, cops said. Cadaver dogs also indicated the presence of possible human remains, according to an arrest report obtained by PEOPLE. The friend also says that the canal behind the couple’s home was raked, but she doesn’t believe authorities found anything.

For their part, Bury and Walsh – who have a history of drug use, according to police – aren’t cooperating with authorities and have allegedly showed no interest in the whereabouts of their young son, police said.

A Difficult Life

Bury met Walsh in rehab, the friend says, and together they had a son, Duane. Duane was just 2 weeks old when he allegedly died of a kidney infection that resulted from a botched circumcision, according to the friend. At the time, speculation ran rampant that the boy had died in a dog attack. “We just want to stop the ignorant comments, accusations, and speculations,” Bury told ABC7. “People can be so cruel. My son’s loss had nothing to do with anyone or anything.”

Bury and Walsh started trying to have another child right after, the friend says. But when Bury was eight months pregnant, the couple lost their home to an electrical fire. “They lost a lot of stuff that was Duane’s and lost a lot of stuff for the new baby,” the friend says. “The community threw her a baby shower and all the local moms gave her stuff.”

Now, the friend says, those moms are angry, feeling they were taken advantage of, says the friend. “People are mad,” she says. “I don’t care that I helped her – I gave her stuff from my son after the fire – that’s just objects that are lost.”

But if something untoward happened to Chance, the friend says, that would be a different story. “I’m flabbergasted. I don’t even know,” she says. “My sisters have helped her, the community helped her. I would have never imagined this at all.”

On Facebook, Bury appears to be a loving mother, posting pictures of her young son – including one that was posted on Sept. 21, after he purportedly disappeared. “The white towel looks like a hotel towel,” the friend says of the picture, which shows baby Chance lying on a towel. “I really thought he was in Georgia. I really thought they brought him to Georgia [with them].”

She adds, “I guess he never made it.”

In retrospect, the friend says, Bury and Walsh’s most recent Facebook posts seem to suggest they knew that they would be apprehended by authorities.

“No matter what life brings, good or bad, know that I will always love you with all of my heart,” Bury wrote on Sept. 21. “I will always love you as well,” Walsh replied.

“It’s like they’re Thelma and Louise,” the friend says, referencing the 1990s movie about two outlaw women.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Section at 941.861.4074 or if you wish to remain anonymous contact Crime Stoppers of Sarasota County, 941.366.TIPS (8477), or online at http://www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com.

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