Grandmother arrested after teen with special needs found at Kansas rest stop

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Janie Gill (left) and teen found near rest stop Janie Gill (left) and teen found near rest stop

Authorities have arrested the grandmother of a 17-year-old Oklahoma boy with special needs who was found at a southeast Kansas rest stop.

Law enforcement in Rogers County, Oklahoma, arrested 68-year-old Janie Gill on Monday for one count of child neglect. Charges of aggravated child endangerment and interference with law enforcement are pending.

The Greenwood County Sheriff's Office says a Beaumont rest stop custodian found the teen at around 6 a.m. on Thursday, November 29. He had no identification and could not speak. The sheriff's office later learned his identity and that he was from the Tulsa area.

Rogers County, Oklahoma Sheriff Scott Walton, says Gill drove hours into Kansas intentionally dropping off her grandson while she was on her way to pick up her husband, who was being released from a Kansas prison.

Sheriff Heath Samuels believes the teen was left at the rest stop before 11 p.m. the night before he was found. He remains in protective custody.

Oklahoma investigators say Gill told them many stories, first saying she left the boy with a relative in Ada, Oklahoma, but that wasn't true.

Gill finally confessed, telling deputies she left him at the rest stop because she knew someone would find him and give him the services and care he needs.

Arrest documents reveal a neighbor told investigators Gill would lock her grandson inside a room overnight and when she went to work. When deputies served a search warrant at her home, they found the room with "deadbolt locking device." According to records, the deadbolt "had a key on the outside of the door, restricting movement to just inside the bedroom and bathroom."

During the search to identify the teen, media coverage got the attention of a woman in Oklahoma who told authorities Gill mentioned wanting to re-home her grandson. The teen's former teacher, Jessica Burdine, tells KAKE News she also noticed his picture and alerted police.

"It's just really upsetting knowing that he was left. He's non verbal, unable to communicate his feelings and his needs and it just breaks my heart that he would just be left without anybody to care for him," Burdine said.

Walton says if there is a silver lining, it's that the boy is happy and liking where he is now, in protective custody in Kansas.

Gill remains jailed on $50,000 bond. She will be extradited to Greenwood County to be formally charged.

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