4-month manhunt ends with couple arrested, accused of child abuse, CMPD says

CHARLOTTE — After a monthslong manhunt, one of the people accused of abusing and abandoning a baby boy has been released from jail on a $1,000 unsecured bond.

Mildred Chestnut was released from the Mecklenburg County jail at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. The other suspect, Brandon Augustine, has not been released. He was initially given a $15,000 secured bond that was later raised to $50,000, according to jail records.

The couple was taken to the Mecklenburg County jail after four months on the run.

They were arrested in Mint Hill around 8 p.m. Thursday, CMPD stated. The two fugitives were living in a tent just a few miles from their old home.

Augustine, 25, and Chestnut, 23, were taken to police headquarters in Uptown to be questioned by detectives before being charged with felony child abuse inflicting serious injuries.

The case the charges stem from came to the attention of police back in March.

On March 20, the baby was taken to Atrium Health Main with severe injuries. Investigators said the couple told nurses the boy was hurt in a crash, but those injuries were not consistent with that type of trauma.

The couple then left him there, and Atrium Health contacted the police.

North Carolina law requires anyone over 18 to report suspected abuse to police. Investigators said two nurses told them the baby had severe head trauma.

“You have a 4-month-old child who didn’t even have a chance at life,” said Lt. Jim Ivie with the CMPD Special Victims Division.

Afterward, warrants were issued for Augustine and Chestnut.

The search for the couple sent police all the way to Georgia. Officials found their car hidden and abandoned at a mobile home park near Atlanta the day after they vanished from the hospital. But detectives said evidence in the car helped them track the couple back to Charlotte.

Right now, officials are working to figure out if anyone helped them along the way.

“It’s possible others could face charges as a result of our investigation,” Ivie said.

CMPD attributed the success of the arrests to the collaboration of multiple agencies, including the United States Secret Service, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, and agencies in other states. They also thanked the public for the community tips that helped them.

“They were certainly moving around quite a bit,” Lt. Ivie said.

Channel 9′s Anthony Kustura asked police for an update on the baby. Police said they can’t share where he is, but can say he is in a safe place.

If you have information about the case, contact Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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