Suspect appears in court after baby discovered in woods near Lolo Hot Springs

Posted at 4:40 PM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 18:40:58-04

MISSOULA – Through sobs and shouted obscenities, a man who was arrested after a baby was left alone for hours in the woods near Lolo Hot Springs over the weekend made his initial court appearance Tuesday.

Francis Crowley’s lawyer muted Crowley’s microphone multiple times during the hearing the hearing Tuesday.

Court documents show that the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office responded to a disturbance call from Lolo Hot Springs on Saturday, July 6. Authorities were also told that a car crash had occurred.

Deputies talked to witnesses — including the baby’s mother — when they arrived at the scene. Witnesses identified Crowley as the driver of the vehicle and authorities began interviewing him.

Deputies soon discovered that Crowley did not have the child with him and appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Crowley later admitted to having taken both methamphetamine and bath salts, according to court documents.

Deputies began searching for the baby after Crowley was not able to lead officials to where he believed the baby to be. Those search efforts led law enforcement to a game trail where they discovered Crowley’s vehicle crashed into a tree.

The child was not in the vehicle so officers began following a trail of personal items until they heard a faint noise and uncovered the baby under a pile of sticks face down. The baby was cold to the touch and was wearing only a onsie that was soiled.

Crowley later admitted to leaving the baby after he grew tired of carrying him. He also told authorities that he can’t remember when he left the baby on the ground but that it was still hot out.

The baby was transported to the hospital and treated for dehydration, lack of food and scratches, cuts and bruises he sustained after spending approximately nine hours alone in the wilderness. 

Crowley will face a charge of assault on a minor that will have a penalty enhancement based on the child’s age. He will also face a charge of criminal endangerment.

Crowley’s bail is set at $200,000. If he can post bail he will be subjected to drug and alcohol testing while remaining in Montana. He is also to have no contact with the child or the child’s mother. 

Crowley has a criminal record out of Oregon that includes convictions of burglary and eluding police.

His next court appearance will be on Wednesday, July 25.