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Mother of boy found alone in Walmart arrested

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The WFPD investigated a child abandonment case after a 12-year-old boy was found by employees wandering around a Walmart about one hour after it closed on Sunday, June 16, 2024.

Shortly after midnight, police were called to the Walmart on Lawrence Road on Sunday, and employees told police they had found a child after they had closed at 11 p.m. Saturday.

Child found alone at WF Walmart after closing

They said the boy told them he was in the store with his mother, Candace Marie Elder, who had gone to the restroom. He waited and began looking for her when she did not return. Arrest records show that Elder has a Lawton address.

A search warrant for Elder was issued on Thursday, June 20, 2024, and Elder was arrested on Friday, June 21, 2024.

Police and Walmart employees searched the bathrooms and the entire store, but there were no signs of the mother. Security footage inside the store showed the boy walking alone in various locations until he was found after closing. A check of outside cameras also showed the boy walking alone across the parking lot from Panda Express at about 7:45 p.m. Saturday.

CPS was called to take emergency custody of the child, and a crime against children investigation began.

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According to court documents, the CPS investigator assigned to the boy’s case spoke with him, and he told the investigator that before the incident at Walmart, he was at a store unit in Wichita Falls off Hwy 79 with his mother.

The victim said he accidentally broke some items while at the storage unit, which upset Elder.

To avoid burdening his mother, the victim said that at approximately 7:45 p.m., while Elder was driving down Lawrence Road, he exited the vehicle in front of Panda Express and walked into Walmart.

According to the CPS investigator, the victim was told by Elder that he was 12 years old and was capable of fending for himself and that if he needed help, he could find his way to his father, who allegedly lives in Sacramento, California.

According to the affidavit, Elder stated that the boy was destroying things and talking back. She also stated that the victim wanted to go live with his father, and that is when he got out of the vehicle. That is when Elder stated that her son was 12 years old and old enough to be independent.

According to the affidavit, the victim has never met his father and does not have his contact information.

Elder said that she does not live in Texas, refused to give the CPS investigator her address, and said she did not need to be involved with the courts. Elder also stated that she grew up in the foster care system and that the boy would be fine, court documents said.

Court documents also said Candace admitted to CPS that she left the victim in Wichita Falls and left the state.

Elder was arrested and charged with abandoning or endangering a child without intent to return. She is in the Wichita County Jail, and a $100,00 bond has been set.

This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available. All individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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