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ND mother can't remember where she left baby as search continues

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Chief Jim Reuther of the Jamestown Fire Department stands on shore on Saturday as a team of searchers launches a boat into a slough with a canine dog that is trained to search for bodies. Tom LaVenture / The Sun3 / 4
Baby's picture posted by Jackie Rindy via Facebook4 / 4

NEAR WOODWORTH, N.D. - Stutsman County and other law enforcement agencies searched a large area here until dusk on Friday for a missing 4-month-old boy whose mother says she can’t remember the last four days or where she left him.

Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser said they are searching sloughs and agricultural areas between Buchanan and Woodworth along 65th Avenue Southeast. The area is where a farmer reportedly found the baby’s mother, Justice Lange, age 25 or 26, who said this was the last area she remembered having the baby with her.

“We have a lot of terrain to get through,” Kaiser said.

Agencies assisting in the search include the North Dakota Highway Patrol with its airplane, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

The Sheriff’s Office will have its remote operated vehicle to search the sloughs on Saturday should it be needed, he said.

It is not known if Lange and her baby live in Jamestown or another city, he said. She is currently in a Fargo hospital, he said.

“We have not charged her with anything yet,” Kaiser said. “We know she had the baby in her possession and that is why we are concentrating heavily on this slough because she said that is the last location she remembers.“

Lange reportedly cannot recall the past four days and she might have been on drugs, he said. She cannot remember where she lost her baby, he said.

Lange’s sister, Jerica Lange, posted on Facebook around 3 p.m. Friday that a person had dropped off her sister at her grandmother’s house that morning. Her sister said she didn't know where her baby was, Lange said, and the grandmother called police, she said.

In separate calls, the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office put out a welfare check for Lange and her baby from concerned family on Monday, and the Carrington Police Department and Foster County Sheriff’s Office were looking for the purple and gray pickup they reported she had allegedly stolen, Kaider said.

Sometime early Friday morning a farmer happened upon Lange walking on a road that is now the focus of the search for the baby. The pickup truck that was reported stolen was located about 2 miles from where Lange was found walking.

“She was walking in the middle of nowhere,” Kaiser said. “She didn’t have the baby with her and we are trying to locate where the baby might be from the last place she can remember.”

The search did produce some articles of clothing and belongings of Lange and her baby about 2 miles from where the pickup was located, he said.

The belongings were located near a slough where deputies searched with waders. The surrounding area is corn, wheat and soybean fields, he said. There are other sloughs in the area that will also be searched, he said.

The Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office K-9 dog was involved in the search Friday and more dogs from other departments will be involved Saturday, he said.

Kaiser is asking the public if anyone had seen Lange or the pickup in the last four days to report it to aid the search.

Lange was reportedly taken to the Carrington Police Department on previous warrants initially, but she had injuries and was transported to a Fargo hospital, he said. He did not have information on her injuries.

Jase Wilde, who said he was the father of the baby in a Facebook post, posted on Facebook at 5:48 a.m. that he was searching for Lange and the baby.

Wilde was arrested Friday on outstanding warrants in three counties, Kaiser said.

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