Rescue divers find body of missing SC baby in creek

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – The body of 5-month-old Baby Grace has been found in the Socastee creek off of Shem Creek Circle Thursday afternoon, according to Horry County Police.

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CLICK TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS OF THE BABY AND RESCUE EFFORTS

Police report that search crews, who have been canvassing the creek and wooded area for nearly 48 hours, discovered the infant’s body in the water around 3:45 p.m.

“It’s with a heavy heart this evening that I have to inform you that at about 3:45 today we were able to locate body of Baby Grace,” states Chief Saundra Rhodes. “Divers from the Department of Natural Resources along with Public Works were able to locate her.”

Chief Rhodes was visibly upset at the press conference and delivered the news of Baby Grace in a solemn, reserved tone.

“Please know that we did everything we could to try to find this baby and although she is deceased, I believe that all of us have a sense of peace in knowing that we can lay her to rest properly,” Rhodes expressed in the Thursday afternoon press conference.

RELATED: Mom detained after she ‘lost her baby’ in creek near Myrtle Beach, police say

Neighbors, volunteers and search groups had come together over the past three days in search of the missing infant.

“I have to say that was a joint effort, and I have to give thanks to all of the agencies that were involved in this operation, as well as this wonderful neighborhood that opened their doors to us, and their yards, and their property,” Chief Rhodes said.

The discovery of the baby’s body follows the release of the emergency call that was made Tuesday morning by a neighbor in the area after finding Baby Grace’s mother on her porch.

The 911 emergency call that came in to dispatchers Tuesday morning after a Socastee mother reportedly lost her baby in a neighborhood creek has been released.

The call was made by a neighbor off Shem Creek Circle at 10:24 a.m. Tuesday. The caller is audibly shaken by her encounter with Sarah Lane Toney, 33, who apparently told the caller that she went into the creek with her baby.

“I have a bit of a weird situation. I had a girl just walk up on the back side of my porch from the river, the creek. And I asked her if she [unintelligible] just wanted to call someone. And she said yeah, just try to find someone, and she said take us to the hospital. Now she’s saying call the police because she just came to the river and had a baby with her. And now she doesn’t have a baby. I’m not sure if she wants something. I have no idea, but you need to send someone over here please,” the emergency caller urges.

The arrest warrant for the mother accused of leaving her baby in a Socastee creek has been released by Police Thursday afternoon.

The arrest warrant details how Sarah Lane Toney, 33, “made several excited utterances stating she had placed the child in a body of water near her residence.” Police also document that Toney “wouldn’t provide any other information regarding the location of the child.”

The warrant concludes that “Sarah L. Toney did knowingly and willingly place her 5-month-old child at unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child’s life, physical or mental health.”

Bond has been denied for the mother who claims “she couldn’t hold on” to her 5-month-old baby girl while crossing a creek in Socastee Tuesday morning.

RELATEDE: Search resumes for SC baby girl ‘lost’ in creek near Myrtle Beach

Horry County Police announced Wednesday afternoon in a press release that Toney has been charged in the child’s disappearance. Lt. Raul Denis reports Sarah Lane Toney, 33, “is charged with unlawful neglect toward a child for her actions in this case.”

In a bond hearing Thursday morning at J. Reuben Long Detention center, a judge denied bond for the mother who maintains she “lost” Baby Grace in the creek, and her actions were not intentional.

During the hearing, Toney said the baby slipped out of her hands when she got into the creek. The prosecutor brought up Toney’s extensive criminal history and claimed she is a flight risk.

Toney also spoke in court, saying she has no money, no where to go, and wants to be with her other child. Prosecutors said Toney does not have custody of the 9-year-old, but Toney says the child lives with her.

If you are using the News13 mobile app, view the video of Toney speaking in court here.

Upon her arrest Wednesday, Lt. Denis said, “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.”

Toney was booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention Center Wednesday at 6:23 p.m., adds Lt. Denis. Her next court appearance is scheduled for December 11 at 1:00 p.m.

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 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.

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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