Mom, boyfriend charged after missing 3-year-old girl found dead in Virginia river

A southwestern Virginia mother and her boyfriend were arrested Wednesday after authorities found the body of a missing 3-year-old girl in a local river.

The Wythe County Sheriff's Office said that Kimberly Dawn Moore, 45, and Adrian Neil Puckett, also 45, have been charged with felony child neglect with reckless disregard for life and felony child endangerment in the death of Josie Burleson. The sheriff's office added that more charges were possible and the investigation is ongoing.

Josie Burleson was found dead Wednesday morning. (Wythe County Sheriff's Office)

Josie Burleson was found dead Wednesday morning. (Wythe County Sheriff's Office)

Investigators say Josie was reported missing just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. When questioned, Moore and Puckett told authorities that the girl was playing outside a house they were visiting near the New River Trail and wandered away. The house in question is located within 150 yards of the river.

VIRGINIA POLICE SAY MISSING BOY, 2, IS DEAD; MOM ARRESTED IN DISAPPEARANCE

The sheriff's office said more than 100 people searched for Josie in nearby fields, along adjacent trails and in the New River, where the girl's body was found shortly after 1 a.m.

Wythe County Sheriff Keith Dunagan told The Roanoke Times that authorities did not know how long Josie was missing before her disappearance was reported because Moore and Puckett "were on meth and they made two or three different statements, and we don’t know which one is correct."

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The sheriff added that investigators believe Josie wandered to the edge of the river looking for a swing she had visited in the past.

"They found her footprints in the mud at the edge of the river," Dunagan told the Times. "The current was swift there, and we believe it carried her down the river."

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