A woman who reported her son missing May 27 faces drug and other charges after the child turned up safe at a day care, where he had been the whole time.
Tia Elrod, 24, of Moss Road has been charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, felony false statements and writings and possession of morphine.
The morphine charge stems from test results returned by the GBI following a previous drug investigation.
Elrod was released from custody May 28 after posting $13,200 bond.
Dawson County Sheriff’s Lt. Tony Wooten said the Department of Family and Children Services has turned the child and his three younger siblings over to a family friend.
Authorities spent about three hours combing the area May 27 after Elrod called 911 about 3 p.m. to report she could not find her 5-year-old son.
She claimed the child had been with her when she arrived at a home near Chestatee Golf Club.
The search included the sheriff’s office, local emergency services, dive teams and several tracking dogs.
The county’s emergency notification system also alerted the community about the missing child.
Many residents joined the search, fearing the child could have wandered over to Lake Lanier and fallen in.
About 6 p.m., a family member received a phone call from teachers at Dawson Learning Center saying the child had not been picked up from pre-K. Wooten said Elrod, who became enraged when she was not allowed to leave the scene to pick the boy up at the day care, was arrested a short time later.
Sheriff Billy Carlisle said his office is familiar with Elrod, who has had numerous run-ins with authorities over the years.
Elrod’s cousin, Daniel Tatum, expressed relief and disbelief following the search.
“He’s at the day care center? All of Dawson County is here looking for him,” he said.
Tatum said his wife, Tara, had previously worked at the child center and was notified when no one picked up the boy.
“How can you forget to pick up your kid?” said Tatum, who was in Gainesville when he heard the child was missing. “I’m just glad he’s OK. I was driving 70 miles an hour to get here.”
Investigators said Elrod was at the day care center Thursday morning for the boy’s pre-K graduation, but did not take him with her after the ceremony.
Tatum said he thought Elrod had brought her kids to the neighborhood to play that afternoon and called the police when she walked back outside and the oldest of the four couldn’t be found.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Johnny Holtzclaw said Elrod was meeting someone working in one of the homes on Northeast Cove.
Family members said Elrod suggested the child could be hiding after he got in trouble.