The mother of missing Tennessee toddler Evelyn Boswell was arrested on Tuesday and charged with providing false information to investigators, about two months after the 15-month-old was last seen, authorities said.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office said the child’s mother, Megan Boswell, 18, had “provided detectives and agents with a number of conflicting statements” during the course of the ongoing investigation.
“During the investigation, we determined that some of the statements Megan Boswell provided to us were false. Many of the false statements that Megan made delayed our investigations and also impeded our investigations in trying to find Evelyn. As a result, she has been charged with false reporting,” Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “Every time we talk to her, her story changes. I’m serious when I say that. Every single time.”
Boswell, who is from Blountville, Tennessee, is now being held in the Sullivan County Jail on a $25,000 bond.
Evelyn was reported missing on Feb. 18 by her grandfather, according to the Amber Alert originally issued over her disappearance. She was reportedly last seen on Dec. 26, according to the Amber Alert. But Cassidy has since cited a babysitter seeing Evelyn on Dec. 10 and 11, and said that might be the “more accurate” estimate of when the child was last seen due to “inaccurate” information that had been provided by Boswell.
“Finding Evelyn is our main concern and our top priority at this time. This case is unlike anything I’ve ever been involved in,” Cassidy said during a press conference on Friday. “We have a child that’s not been seen by the parents or certain family members in almost two months, and it was just reported this week.”
“This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” he added.
The child’s grandmother, Angela Boswell, who had allegedly been caring for Evelyn in December, was arrested in Wilkes County, North Carolina on Friday. She and her boyfriend, William McCloud, were charged with possession of a stolen vehicle — the car in question had been flagged by Tennessee authorities, who said the people in the vehicle might have information about Evelyn’s whereabouts.
“I’d like to get back there and get this situation with my granddaughter resolved,” Angela Boswell told a judge in North Carolina on Monday, before being transported to Sullivan County, Tennessee, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Cassidy confirmed that authorities in Wilkes County had begun searching a pond in connection with Evelyn’s case.
Megan Boswell, who had full custody of Evelyn, spoke to NBC affiliate WCYB on Tuesday before her arrest, and said she last saw Evelyn “towards the middle, end” of December, when she left the toddler with her mother. (Angela Boswell has not commented publicly on that accusation.)
“She was supposed to babysit her. It didn’t turn out that way,” Megan Boswell said, denying speculation that she was involved in her daughter’s disappearance and saying she believes Evelyn is still alive. In a previous interview with WCYB, Megan Boswell had said she did not report her daughter missing for weeks because she “knew the person who had her, and I didn’t want them to run away with her.”
“If you talk to anybody who actually knows me, they know that I would never hurt Evelyn or do anything like that,” she said on Tuesday, telling WCYB that she had volunteered to take a lie detector test, but was turned away because she is pregnant. (The American Polygraph Association recommends that examiners delay a woman’s polygraph test if she is experiencing a high-risk pregnancy and says examiners should defer to medical professionals about whether the test could interfere with the pregnancy.)
But during Wednesday’s press conference, Cassidy said the sheriff’s office never asked her to take a polygraph test and had not arranged for her to take one with an examiner through the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Evelyn’s father, Ethan Perry, is stationed in Louisiana on active-duty military service. Megan Boswell said he is trying to take leave to help with the search for their child.
A reward of more than $59,000 has been offered by Cassidy and several community businesses for Evelyn’s safe return.
“We remain committed and continue to do everything possible to find out what happened to Evelyn,” Cassidy said.