Boy, 5, found dead in lake; mom facing charges

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HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Highlands County mother is facing charges after her 5-year-old son was found dead in a lake early Friday morning.

The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office said Chance Peterkin, and his mother, Philletta Moransit, 29, were reported missing around 6 p.m. Thursday night after they left their home in Avon Park that morning.

“Right now it’s still a mystery, as to what lead to this and how Chance ended up in that lake,” said Scott Dressel, public information officer with Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.

The grandfather of Chance spoke about the incident.

“God knows, how my baby mind messed up,” Moransit’s father told WFLA.

He told detectives his daughter was behaving strangely.

She told him a nearby school was her house.

“Right there, at that school right there?” he said he asked her.

“‘You see, That’s my house’,” he said she replied. “I said ‘what do you mean that’s your house’?”

Then, he said, she and her son left on foot, without shoes.

Thursday evening, deputies were called to the South Florida State College campus where they found Moransit.

“The child wasn’t with her. She just wasn’t cooperative about telling us when the last time she had her son or anything,” said Dressel.

Authorities found a piece of her clothing on the east side of Lake Lelia, according to Dressel.

Crews searched for several hours and found Peterkin’s body in the waters of Lake Lelia shortly after midnight. The lake is close to U.S. Highway 27, which runs through town.

“Sheriff Paul Blackman, who had been on a boat searching for several hours, located Chance in the water around 12:20 a.m., ending an extensive search of the area in and around the lake,” the agency posted on Facebook.

It was news that deflated members of the search crews who were hoping for a miracle.

“We have some community-oriented deputies who go into the schools and the preschools and who had actually interacted with Chance and knew Chance and had said how great of a kid he was. It really hit home for them,” said Dressel.

She was arrested on charges of resisting an officer and child neglect with great bodily harm. Jail records show she has no bond.

More charges are possible pending further investigation and the autopsy report.

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