Police have signed an arrest warrant for a Philadelphia woman after she allegedly left her quadriplegic son with cerebral palsy alone in the woods for over five days with nothing but a blanket and a Bible.
Nyia Parler, 41, is accused of leaving her 21-year-old son in a wooded area along Cobbs Creek Parkway near Catharine Street around 11 a.m. Monday before traveling to Montgomery County, Maryland to visit her boyfriend.
After several days of cold temperatures and rain, the victim was found 100-feet into the woods around 9 p.m. Friday, according to Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker. Investigators say the victim likely would have died if not for the man who spotted him while passing by.
"They found [him] about 100 yards off the roadway here, laying in leaves. He's got a blanket over him and a Bible on his chest," Walker said. "He has a wheelchair about 10 feet from his body."
Rescuers took the man to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia where he is being treated for a cut on his back, dehydration, malnutrition and exposure to the weather, police said. He is currently in stable condition.
"A lot of things could've happened out there," Walker said. "Obviously he's in the middle of a wooded area. You have wild animals out there. You never know what's going to happen."
Several of his aunts are by his bedside, said police, who added the relatives are being interviewed about his medical history and his mother.
Officials describe the victim as "non-verbal" and completely dependent on others for his care.
"What we've learned so far is that the 21-year-old child lives with his mother, completely dependent on mom as a result of his condition," Walker said. "She also has a 16-year-old son who is staying with other family members."
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The man, who attends the School of the Future at 40th Street and Parkside Avenue, didn't show up for classes and officials called Nyia Parler, his mother, police said. When she didn't answer, they contacted his aunt and then she phoned his mom, according to investigators.
At that time, Parler lied to authorities, claiming her son was safe with her in Maryland along with her boyfriend, according to investigators.
"We know she left for Maryland on Monday to go see her boyfriend on a bus," Walker said.
Eight hours after authorities found the man, Parler remains in Maryland, Walker said. Police signed a warrant for Parler's arrest Saturday night. She will be charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, neglect of a care-dependent person, unlawful restraint, kidnapping and false imprisonment.
"We've been working all night with Maryland authorities so the county in Maryland we're working with has assisted us in this investigation," Walker said. "They have been in contact with her and the boyfriend she's staying with."
NBC10's Jesse Gary was at the scene when officers took the man's wheelchair in as evidence.
Police said the victim and Parler live in a West Philadelphia home that does not have a handicapped-accessible ramp. They are working with DHS in the investigation.
"It's heartbreaking to see another human, especially a mother, treat someone like that," Walker said. "You had all the opportunities in the world to turn that kid to your family members who wanted to care for him."