A Town of Boston man who took his live-in girlfriend's 6-year-old son on an overnight hunt for crack cocaine on the city's East Side was charged Thursday with endangering the welfare of a child and marijuana possession, state police reported.
John D. Mrozek, 30, remained in the Erie County Holding Center late Thursday pending arraignment on the charges this morning in Buffalo City Court.
State police and other area law enforcement agencies searched for the missing boy, Jordan Wittcop, from about 1 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. Thursday, when State Police investigators found him with Mrozek in a truck at Broadway and Lathrop Street.
Jordan did not have any visible injuries but was taken to Women and Children's Hospital as a precaution, authorities said.
"It was a good ending for the mother and her child," said Capt. Steven A. Nigrelli of the State Police. "When the call came in [Jordan] had been located and was fine, everyone in the station was high-fiving."
Mrozek was charged with child endangerment because, authorities said, he took the boy out of his house and away from his mother on the coldest night of the year into the dangerous areas of the city's drug trade. Jordan also missed school Thursday.
Jordan's mother had left him home with Mrozek when she went to work at about 5 p.m. Wednesday.
She was not able to reach them after about 9:15 p.m. When the mother returned home at about 10:30 p.m., her son and Mrozek were gone.
A police source said Mrozek went to the East Side to try to buy crack cocaine.
At one point, he apparently even offered to sell a license plate off of his car in exchange for money to buy crack.
Jordan's mother tried for a few hours to locate them on her own before going to state police about 1 a.m. and filing a report.
The printed alert said Mrozek might have headed for the Buffalo area.
Nigrelli said police suspected early on the case probably was not a kidnapping, but rather that Mrozek, who had a previous drug addiction, was out looking for drugs.
"Driven by the power of addiction and poor choices, he put the little boy at risk, caused heartbreak for the boy's mother and had numerous law enforcement agencies out looking for him," Nigrelli said.
The mother's knowledge of some of Mrozek's acquaintances in the city as well as technology eventually helped police track Mrozek down, Nigrelli said.
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com