Whereabouts of parents of Chapel Hill newborn found safe still a mystery as criminal pasts uncovered

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Parents with long criminal history still sought after baby found safe
Chapel Hill Police said Child Protective Services had a court order for custody of the baby and were requesting assistance locating him.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Chapel Hill Police said they haven't filed charges as of Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after they issued an AMBER Alert for a newborn who was ultimately handed off to a probation officer Monday night.

"They're not stopping," a 911 caller said on Friday.

8-day-old boy missing from Chapel Hill found safe, search for parents continues

According to the 911 call, Jaxton Brown was supposed to be removed from his parents, Destinee Cothran, 26, and Justin Lee Brown, 29, one week after he was born.

Destinee Ariel Cothran, left, and Justin Lee Brown
NC Department of Public Safety

He was last seen at the Red Roof Inn in Durham on Friday, where the caller said the parents kept driving after they reported they were on their way to the child's pediatric appointment.

"Mom has an active warrant and Dad has an active warrant and we need custody of the child," the caller said.

Officials found the car they believe the newborn's parents were traveling in, empty, in a Big Lots parking lot in Durham on Monday. The baby was found nearby in the area safe and unharmed.

It's unclear why there was a delay between when the baby was last seen and when the AMBER Alert was issued, but Chapel Hill Police said the case met the requirements of an AMBER Alert and Child Protective Services had a court order for custody of the baby and were requesting assistance locating him.

"We're thankful the child was quickly and safely located following the alert," a Chapel Hill spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, court documents revealed that the baby's parents had long criminal histories involving drug use.

The suspect vehicle was found in the parking lot of a Big Lots store at 3420 SW Durham Drive.

In May 2023, Cothran was charged with a DWI and possession of heroin. Brown also had previous DWI convictions and had tested positive for drugs, such as meth and cocaine, in the past.

ABC11 asked Orange County Child Protective Services whether those previous drug charges factored into the custody situation, but they declined to comment citing that by law, they can't comment on the status of any minor child who may or may not be involved with DSS.

Chapel Hill Police said the investigation is ongoing.