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Former ‘missing’ boy in foster care, father in jail

Moses Ngalahom leaves Clayton County Juvenile Court after Judge Steve Teske orders his son to stay in foster care until a viable relative can be found for placement

Moses Ngalahom leaves Clayton County Juvenile Court after Judge Steve Teske orders his son to stay in foster care until a viable relative can be found for placement

A Riverdale father under the influence of alcohol apparently forgot that he asked a relative to baby-sit his son for a long weekend, sparking a near 12-hour police search for the boy, Thursday.

Moses Ngalahom, 55, has been charged with child deprivation in the case. His son is in foster care until arrangements with other relatives can be made. Ngalahom was in Clayton County Juvenile Court Friday morning for an emergency placement hearing. Judge Steven Teske said keeping Andrew Ngalahom, 6, in state care for now is the best option.

"I don't want to lose Andrew again," he said.

Ngalahom did not address the court. Dressed in the orange jumpsuit of a Clayton County inmate, he sat quietly with his attorney. He also made a first appearance Friday morning in Clayton Magistrate Court, where he got a $25,000 bond.

Clayton County Police Detective John Freeman testified Friday morning to the events that led up to Andrew being reported missing.

"He said the last thing he remembered was he drank some beer about 4 p.m. Wednesday and laid down to take a nap," said Freeman. "He said Andrew was outside playing. He didn't wake up until 5:30 the next morning. He checked Andrew's bed, but he was not there."

Ngalahom said he walked up and down the street and checked with neighbors and had more beer before calling the police, about 10:30 a.m., said Freeman.

Later Thursday night, while police conducted a search of the Ngalahom home, the phone rang. It was Andrew, looking for his father, said Freeman. He'd been with a relative the entire time.

"Mr. Ngalahom had no recollection of having called this relative to pick up Andrew," said Freeman. "He said he'd give her $70 and asked that she keep him for a long weekend, so he could be introduced to the rest of the family. But he only remembered his son playing in the yard, having some beer [himself] and taking a nap."

Freeman also testified to the condition of the Ngalahom home. He said officers found expired food and roach infestation throughout the house, but Andrew did have his own bed and clothing.

A Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services worker, Sequoyah Justice, told Teske that Ngalahom has no source of income. The father and son apparently share the house with the owner, an elderly woman living with Alzheimer's.

Ngalahom and his wife, Delicia Libby, are separated but still legally married, said Freeman.

"Mr. Ngalahom said she abandoned them two years ago," he said. "She lives somewhere in Louisiana. She has a drug problem. She has two other children who live with her brother. She has no interaction with her children at all."

Teske said he preferred to err on the side of caution in the case. Child welfare workers will investigate viable relatives for placement.

"It doesn't look good," he said. "While you are in control of a child, you are intoxicated? How often does he get intoxicated? Are we dealing with a more serious situation? If you have control of a child, you shouldn't be drinking that much."