Caleb "C.J." Whisnand Jr. was found buried in a remote wooded area

By Harriet Sokmensuer
May 13, 2021 05:54 PM
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Caleb Whisnand
Credit: Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

Hours after an Alabama couple pleaded for the safe return of their missing infant son, the boy's father has been charged with his murder.

On Wednesday, Caleb Michael Whisnand, 32, was charged with reckless manslaughter for the death of 5-week-old son Caleb "C.J." Whisnand Jr., the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office announced.

Hours earlier, Whisnand and the boy's mother, 28-year-old Angela Nicole Gardner, spoke to the media during a press conference and pleaded for help in finding their son.

"It would mean everything to us. The family ain't the same without family, that's for sure,'' Whisnand told reporters, WSFA reports. "It's been taking a toll on everybody."

According to authorities, shortly after the press conference, C.J.'s body was found buried in a remote wooded area of Lowndes County. His cause of death has not been released.

On Thursday, authorities announced that prosecutors had upgraded Whisnand's charge to capital murder following his son's autopsy.

Caleb Whisnand
Caleb Whisnand
| Credit: Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

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The timeline of C.J.'s disappearance and death remains unclear.

According to the sheriff's office, the newborn was reported missing Monday night from a gas station on Wetumpka Highway. During Wednesday's press conference, Gardner told reporters C.J. disappeared while his father was paying for gas.

However, an alert issued by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency early Tuesday said the boy had been missing since Saturday, AL.com reports. Relatives told AL.com that Whisnand had taken C.J. while Gardner was asleep.

"She didn't get to have her son on Mother's Day or Monday,'' Margaret Hope, Gardner's mother, told the outlet. "Angela is a great mother, and she is overprotective of her kids. She was so happy when she gave birth."

Gardner has not been charged with any crimes. Whisnand is being held without bond in the Montgomery County Detention Center. Attorney information was not available Thursday.