A 28-year-old Ottawa man said a “lack of communication” about who was to be watching his two young children led to his 2-year-old son wandering away from their Ottawa home.
Justin L. Vogeler was arrested by Ottawa police after a resident found Vogeler’s toddler shortly after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the street at the intersection of East Fifth and South Mulberry streets, police said.
Officers and detectives following up leads and information determined the boy walked away from a house in the 500 block of South Sycamore Street — about a block from where the child was located, Capt. Adam Weingartner, with the Ottawa Police Department, said.
An adult roommate of the father’s was in the home and asleep when the child wandered off, Weingartner said.
The roommate was unaware the child and a 6-month-old infant boy were at the residence and did not know one of the children had left, Weingartner said, adding the roommate was not considered a suspect.
Police did not release the identities of the roommate, the children or the mother of the children.
Detectives took the 2-year-old boy and the infant found at the residence into police protective custody, Weingartner said.
The Franklin County Attorney’s office has charged Vogeler with one misdemeanor count of endangering a child. His arraignment is 9:30 a.m. Wednesday before Judge Kevin Kimball in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. Vogeler is free on a $5,000 surety bond awaiting his court appearance.
Some Herald Facebook followers have been critical of Vogeler for allowing a situation in which the child wandered into the street. Vogeler posted a long written response on the Herald’s Facebook page Friday morning.
“I have two wonderful children that I cared for all of their lives,” Vogeler wrote. “The mother, although cares very much for them also, isn’t in a position that allows her to be able to watch them regularly. So in order to work, I have to find people that can handle watching a 2-year-old and a baby at the same time. Sometimes it’s tough, sometimes I don’t get to work at all. Makes paying bills hard and paying a babysitter even harder, but I have been managing well since Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) of this year.”
Vogeler was at work when the incident occurred Wednesday, he said.
“I entrusted my kids to a close relative of mine,” Vogeler said. “As he left to go to his place of employment, he assumed my roommate was aware I wasn’t there. My roommate was awake and alert, at that time. He knew the kids were there, but was unaware that he was the only adult, so he went to his room to sleep after a long day’s work. He watches them for me from time to time and my relative thought it was my roommate’s turn, just didn’t say it out loud — but neither did I. I was at work, thinking the kids are in great hands.”
Vogeler said he was grateful his son was not hurt.
“The events that happened are extremely scary to me,” he wrote. “So many bad things could have happened.”
Because of a breakdown in communication and a mistake that “really should have never ever happened,” Vogeler said, “My kids were taken away from me. I was arrested for child endangerment and thrown in jail. I had everything important to me taken away, and my kids lost everything they knew as well.”
Vogeler hasn’t seen his children since they were “ripped from me and their home,” he said.
“So unless you can understand how it feels to work and strive to do everything you can to keep a roof over your two babies’ heads, and tell them you love them many times a day, eat the food you cooked at the table with them, have good morning and good night, and then one day have it all taken because your very intelligent, extremely fast-learning child decided one morning to unlock the door and try to find you down the road where he knows you work,” Vogeler wrote to his critics, “then I don’t really need to hear any more further negative commentary.”
Vogeler said he needs his children and needs to know they are OK. He also used the sounding board to thank those in the community who have been supportive.
“... To the many that are more realistic, thank you for your courtesy, understanding, and wisdom,” Vogeler said. “Not everyone can stop for a moment and see things from every side of the barn.”