Mother of missing S. Carolina baby charged; search in creek continues

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Horry County Police announced Wednesday afternoon that the mother of the 5-month-old baby believed to be in a Socastee creek has been charged in the child’s disappearance.

Lt. Raul Denis reports Sarah Lane Toney, 33, “is charged with unlawful conduct toward a child for her actions in this case.”

“The warrant was obtained in response to what’s occurred so far and that could change. Depending on how this goes. If we find the baby or not find the baby, things could change,” Denis said.

An arrest warrant was served to Toney, who was booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention Center Wednesday at 6:23 p.m., adds Lt. Denis. Toney will have a bond hearing on the unlawful conduct charge at the Horry County Detention Center 9 a.m. Thursday morning.

Horry County police and other search teams returned to Socastee to continue the search for the missing 5-month-old child Wednesday morning.

The Community United Effort (CUE) Center for Missing Persons, traveled from Wilmington, NC to Socastee to aid police in the search for baby Grace.

Police say Toney claimed to have lost her baby in a Socastee creek Tuesday morning.

Crews called off the search Tuesday night for the missing Socastee baby after water began to rise.

Missing child in South Carolina
PHOTOS: Missing child in South Carolina

According to Lt. Raul Denis, a homeowner reported finding a woman, later identified as Toney, on her back porch. The initial call to officers was in reference to a suspicious person around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Toney then reportedly told the homeowner she went into the creek with her child, Lt. Denis adds. Investigators revealed that Toney lost her baby in a rushing creek behind a home on Simms Drive.

Toney was transported to Conway Hospital for “medical clearance” while officials searched for the child Tuesday afternoon.

“Anything she tells us has to be investigated and corroborated,” explained Denis.

Detectives canvassed Simms Drive while talking to neighbors. Kaylee White lives in the neighborhood and says she’s seen Toney out walking.

“I have two babies of my own; I couldn’t imagine doing anything to them,” stated White.

Rescue crews discontinued their search for the infant Tuesday at sunset, says Lt. Denis. The water became too high and too fast for crews to continue the search. Officers returned to search for the baby at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“The water is really fast and turbulent so it’s not ideal for any diver to be in it,” said Denis.

The baby named Grace is 5-months-old, according to Lt. Denis. Police k-9 agents were called to the scene to aid in the search for the child.

Lt. Denis said officers were on scene, along the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Horry County Fire Rescue, conducting an investigation. Horry County Police released a photo of the baby shortly after the search began.

According to Lt. Denis, Toney was later arrested on an outstanding, unrelated warrant and is being held at the Horry County Detention Center.

Online booking records show that Toney has been arrested twice within the past 12 months. Toney was booked into the jail March 6 at 9:03 a.m. for criminal domestic violence, third or subsequent offense. She was released on $5,000 bond the following day.

Toney was also jailed in November 2014 for numerous drug charges. Online booking records confirm Toney was booked November 6, 2014 on charges of giving false information to police, possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, shoplifting, manufacturing crack cocaine, and possession of contraband by prisoner.

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