Police: Sleeping man unaware his barefoot kids roamed West York for 2 hours
When West York Police learned a 3-year-old boy and his 5-year-old hearing-impaired sister were found wandering borough streets without shoes or jackets in 40-degree weather, they put out the word on social media.
Borough residents weighed in on Facebook, but Chief Matt Millsaps said it was good old-fashioned police work — just knocking on door after door, talking with neighbors — that led Officer Michael Mendez Sr. to the children's father.
It took Mendez about two hours to find Mark Richard Hatterer Jr., according to charging documents — and the chief said Hatterer didn't realize his kids were missing until Mendez contacted him.
The man's initial response was to yell at Mendez and later yell at his 3-year-old son, according to Millsaps.
Hatterer Jr., 26, of the 1500 block of Filbert Street, has not yet been arraigned in the case, according to court records.
Mendez filed two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment against him on Thursday in the office of District Judge Jennifer J.P. Clancy.
Hatterer is expected to have bail set when he appears before Clancy for his preliminary hearing, currently scheduled for June 23, court records state.
The children live primarily with their mother in York City but spend every other weekend with their father, police said.
Ran into street: Charging documents state it was a good Samaritan who discovered the wandering children when the 3-year-old boy ran into the street in front of her car about 9 a.m. March 27. That happened on Adams Street, near the corner of Filbert Street, police said.
The woman was able to stop before hitting the boy. She called 911, and when Mendez responded, he found her swinging the children on a swing set in Shelly Park.
Despite it being about 40 degrees, neither child was wearing a jacket or shoes, police said. The boy had on a T-shirt with no pants — just a soiled diaper that was leaking — and his sister was wearing pajamas, documents state.
The girl was nonverbal, and although her little brother was able to give police his sister's first name, he couldn't provide any other information, police said.
Mendez took them to West York's police station.
"While at the station both children appeared hungry, and both children were fed," he wrote in charging documents.
The York County Office of Children, Youth and Families took the children into temporary protective custody, after which Mendez went back out to the neighborhood and started asking neighbors if anyone knew where the children belonged, police said.
One neighbor was able to point out Hatterer's home — the front door of which was wide open, according to Mendez.
Mendez said he tried to get someone to come to the door, and eventually Hatterer came outside, where the officer told him about his children, documents state.
Yelled at cop, son? Hatterer went back inside his home, yelling, police said. That's when his girlfriend came outside to talk to Mendez, documents state.
During that conversation, Hatterer "would come outside and yell," but eventually calmed down and spoke with Mendez, police said.
A child-services caseworker arrived with the children around that time.
Hatterer walked to the caseworker's car and yelled at his son, saying, "Why didn't you wake me or come and get me?" according to charging documents.
"I found this comment to be odd and somewhat disturbing as the child was only 3 years old," Mendez wrote in those documents.
After Mendez returned to the station, he spoke by phone with the children's mother, "who was upset and angry that her children were left unattended and found on the streets of West York," documents state.
She questioned why the caseworker would have released the kids back to Hatterer's custody, and told Mendez that Hatterer has their children every other weekend, police said.
Mendez filed a report with Pennsylvania's ChildLine, where anyone can report suspected child abuse in Pennsylvania 24 hours a day. He also alerted Hatterer's probation officer, documents state.
Other charges: Hatterer was already free on two other pending criminal cases when his kids left his home, court records reveal.
On Feb. 2, West Manchester Township Police filed charges against Hatterer of possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license, court records state. His preliminary hearing in that case is set for April 20.
On Jan. 22, York Area Regional Police filed charges against him including second-offense driving under the influence, DUI at the highest rate of alcohol, DUI involving a controlled substance, driving with a suspended license and driving without insurance, records state.
He remains free on $2,500 unsecured bail in the DUI case, records state.
As of Monday, York County's adult probation department hadn't filed a request to have his bail revoked for incurring new charges, court records indicate.
Hatterer could not be reached for comment. He doesn't have listed attorneys in any of his active cases.
His criminal history in York County includes guilty pleas since 2015 to making terroristic threats, defiant trespass, DUI, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a prohibited offensive weapon, according to court records.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.