Toddler Found Safe After Night Time Disappearance

By Mike Trim

July 22, 2010 Updated Apr 12, 2006 at 12:06 AM EDT

A toddler is safe at home with a family that's probably hoping for a good nights sleep.

2-year-old Joseph Mitchell woke up and walked out of the house in the middle of the night.

His Binghamton neighborhood was the scene of an intensive search, that ended with a happy mother and child reunion.

Winifred Perry clutches Joseph.

They were reunited on Liberty Street after a 7-and-a-half-hour search for the toddler.

"I don't want to let him go. He's going everywhere with me," says Winifred Perry, Mitchell's mother.

Perry and family are relieved after hours of worry.

"I feel great because I was thinking of the worst, you know?" says Mitchell's Great Uncle Andrew Sammut.

"I just wanted to go grab him and say thanks to everybody that helped," says Mitchell's Aunt, Andrew Sammut.

Perry called police around 1a.m. Tuesday morning, when she discovered he was no longer in bed, asleep.

Police believe Mitchell wandered out the back door and down the steps at his home at 94 Liberty Street.

He was only wearing a diaper.

Up to 50 Binghamton police, Broome County Sheriff's deputies, and state troopers searched for Mitchell. State police also called in a helicopter with a heat sensing device, hoping it would spot the missing 2-year-old.

It was Trooper Mark Johnson who found Mitchell in this garage at 128 Liberty Street.

Johnson says in his 13-and-a-half years on the job, this was his happiest ending to a missing person search.

"Most of us are parents anyways so you want to do your best and make the best effort for the family," says Johnson.

Johnson found Mitchell awake, covered by a blanket.

"Other than being very cold, initially the child seems to be in really good shape," says Capt. Alex Minor of the BInghamton Police.

Mitchell was taken to Wilson Hospital, where he was checked out and released an hour later.

Now, mom is all smiles to have Mitchell safe and back in her arms again.

Winfried Perry has eight children who live in the rented house on Liberty Street.

She says she'll ask her landlord to help make the home safer by installing child safety locks on all the doors.

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