Most-wanted person found close to home Officers had 'no trouble' picking escape artist up


John Homer Richards has a bad habit of making his way through doors with ordinary locks. And because of that he found himself in the Essex police station yesterday unable to explain his whereabouts.

Police said they had no trouble picking him up.

It was 6 a.m. and he was found wandering down a suburban street in Middlesex clad only in a diaper.

John Richards, who will be 3 years old July 12, got up around dawn, bypassed his sleeping baby sitter, unlocked the front door and walked out of his house in the 800 block of Middlesex Road.

It's uncertain exactly when he left the house. The baby sitter said she last checked on him about 3 a.m.

At 6 a.m., a woman walking her dog in the 900 block of N. Marlyn Ave. -- about a block away from the child's house -- saw the youngster strolling through the neighborhood unescorted and unconcerned. She called 911.

Officers picked John up and took him door-to-door in that block. Unable to locate his parents, they returned to the Essex precinct where several "station-house fathers" offered their "prisoner" graham crackers and orange juice, said Officer Dennis P. Barry of the Essex precinct.

Officers even arranged for a neighbor to donate a pair of pajamas.

Because of the cool morning temperatures, officers decided to take the youngster to Franklin Square Hospital Center for a precautionary checkup. He was given a clean bill of health.

Meanwhile, back on Middlesex Road, the baby sitter awakened to an empty crib. She called the child's grandmother, who contacted her daughter.

By 9 a.m., they were in touch with the Baltimore County police who sent them to the Essex precinct.

John's mother, Sheila Wells, then picked him up at the hospital.

She told the police this was not the first time John had managed to unlock the door on his own, but she said she hoped it would be the last.

D8 Deadbolt locks would soon be installed on the doors.

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