EXCLUSIVE: Sheriff sets record straight on finding Casey Hathaway

EXCLUSIVE: Sheriff sets record straight on finding Casey Hathaway (Christy Hutchings, NewsChannel 12)

Ever since authorities found 3-year-old Casey Hathaway in the woods, speculation and rumors as to how he ended up there have run rampant.

Some people want to know how a child could survive those frigid temperatures for three days, and some believe Casey wasn’t lost, but instead abducted and later placed in the woods.

Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes sat down with NewsChannel 12 to set the record straight. "Everybody's got a theory about what took place, and how there is no way this child could have survived," said Sheriff Hughes.

Sheriff Hughes said it was by the grace of God that Casey did survive. After news spread that Casey had been located, people started asking questions. Was Casey really in the woods the whole time? Or did someone place him there out of fear of being caught?

Sheriff Hughes addressed those rumors as well. "The notion that he was sitting in a house or a vehicle for two days and put out there a couple of hours before we found him is absolutely not true. His core temperature was very low, his fingers and all had a bit of frost bite, “said Sheriff Hughes. "A lot of it, according to what medical was telling us, was conducive for him being out in the elements for an extended period of time."

Sheriff Hughes said Casey did not remain in one spot that whole time, instead the toddler moved around, and had at least a hour head start on them. "Once we got the K-9s there, so many people before we got there walked through that area and disturbed the ground," said Sheriff Hughes.

Time was ticking. Sheriff's Hughes knew time was running out and he said Casey's survival is a miracle. "The coldness, the wet and just the terrain we were dealing with, this kid was looked after, make no mistake about it," said Sheriff Hughes.

He also addressed the story about the bear in the woods, and said that is a story that Casey told his mom at the emergency room. She told the sheriff that Casey said he was with his friend the bear. “I don’t know if that meant he saw a bear. I don’t know if that meant a bear embraced him or what it meant,” said Sheriff Hughes. "I thought it was a very cute story and if that’s what helped that child survive through this, you know what, I’m to going to embrace that story that came from a three-year-old, to his mom, to us.”

Sheriff Hughes said his office will continue to follow up on any lead or tip pertaining to Casey, but right now there is no evidence linking Casey’s disappearance to any criminal activity.

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