There are few things more horrifying to a parent than the thought of their child going missing. With no way of knowing where they are, who they’re with, or if they’re safe, it’s an absolute nightmare to even imagine.
Unfortunately, one Mississippi mother lived that nightmare when she discovered her two-year-old son had vanished in the middle of the night. A search was initiated as soon as he was reported missing, but what the police found only confused them further.
Chelsea Nobel, 21, of Harrison County, Mississippi, woke up one night in October 2017 to a horrifying discovery: her two-year-old son, William, was not in his bed. In fact, he was completely missing.
At some point in the middle of the night, William had gotten up and wandered out of the house. Why he would do such a thing—and how—wasn’t entirely unclear, but either way, his mother was beyond worried.
Infrogmation / Wikimedia Commons
Absolutely frantic—and who could blame her?—Chelsea called the police and explained what happened. Almost immediately, a thorough search began throughout the entire county to locate the missing toddler.
The determined search party worked as hard as they possibly could, employing everything from ATVs courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks to K-9 units.
Harrison County Sheriffs Department
It wasn’t just the police who became involved, either. Neighbors and other volunteers stepped in to help as well. The search parties combed the woods, but they couldn’t seem to find a trace of William anywhere.
Even once the sheriff’s department started using helicopters to look for William from the sky, they still came up empty. For a long while, it really seemed as if the toddler had simply vanished into thin air.
Eventually, authorities stumbled across a tremendous lead that offered a whole lot of hope: they found a series of small footprints! They were definitely a toddler’s, and the likelihood that they belonged to William was high. This important discovery proved to be just the breakthrough they needed.
Yet there was another detail that surprised everyone: William’s footprints were accompanied by an additional set of footprints that belonged to a dog. This was encouraging news, as Chelsea’s dog, Jezebel, had also gone missing that night.
Public Domain Pictures
The final piece of the puzzle was soon discovered when 10-year-old Blake Carroll was coming home from school and heard the horn on his uncle’s old truck beeping. Upon investigation, he noticed a dog circling the truck, trying to get inside.
Then, as Blake moved closer to investigate what was going on in the truck, he discovered William inside the truck! Not knowing what to make of the strange toddler, Blake rushed home to tell his parents.
Blakes parents immediately called the authorities who rushed to the scene as soon as they could. The search was officially—and finally—concluded. Better yet, William was almost completely unharmed, save for a few scratches and bug bites.
Obviously, it was an emotional reunion between the boy and his mother. William, who is mostly non-verbal, was recently diagnosed with autism. Which stands to reason why he didn’t respond when people called out his name.
Unfortunately, Chelsea was eventually charged with misdemeanor child neglect after investigators determined that she had not supervised William properly during the time that he wandered out of the house.
Meanwhile, Jezebel was praised by the sheriff’s department for protecting William throughout the night and refusing to leave his side for no less than seven hours! Clearly, she was a loyal and loving pup!
eileenstroup / Pixabay
Communities have a way of banding together when something hurts one of their own. But sometimes, as with William and Jezebel, an emergency requires a special touch. And it was a similar special touch that helped one family from Kentucky.
See, Beth Campbell of Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, struggled with drug addiction for years. So much so, in fact, that when tasked with watching her two-year-old granddaughter on June 7, 2018, she couldn’t help but sneak away for a fix.
Darcy Costello / Courier Journal
On that day, Charlee wore bright blue pajamas, peppered with pictures of characters from the animated film, Frozen, and, at about 10 a.m., during her grandmother’s moment of vulnerability, she wandered off from the property on Winding Hollow Lane.
Beth Campbell / Facebook
Adding more danger to the situation, the area around Beth’s home was not open, flat lands where you could spot a baby from two miles away: woods, fields, and hills flanked her property. Yet, unbelievably, the situation was even worse than it first appeared.
Charlee hadn’t been the only one to wander off the property on that hot June morning. Beth’s vivacious gray pit bull, Penny, had also wandered off the property. When Beth realized what was happening, she alerted the authorities immediately.
Darcy Costello / Courier Journal
After the call, a collection of 40 law enforcement officers and firefighters gathered with trucks and ATVs to scour the surrounding areas. To track Penny and Charlee, they even used dogs with thermal imaging cameras on their backs.
Sara Sidery / Twitter
Because nothing brings a small town together like tragedy striking one of their own, a militia of volunteers joined in on the hunt for the missing duo. Locals Eric and Leanne Wilson had never met Charlee—but they helped anyway.
“What if that was our child?” Eric Wilson, left, said. “We’d want everybody that was possibly able to help us come out and find our child.” Another volunteer, Cheyenne Ashley—who lived just one mile from Beth—expressed similar sentiments.
The community banding together to search, “really makes you believe that the people around you do care about you,” Ashely said. The volunteer army searched pools, nooks, and crannies, but after hours in the hot sun, they turned up nothing.
Sam Upshaw Jr. / Courier-Journal
Many feared the worst: Locals knew stories of kids far older than Charlee drowning in the community’s creeks or suffering a snakebite. Meanwhile, authorities searched and re-searched areas nearby the Campbell home. Where could a two-year-old have been?
About 36 hours after Beth reported Charlee, Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell, below, said authorities planned to “backtrack” possible routes Charlee could’ve taken. But before they could, Beth, who’d been at home praying, saw something outside her home…
Outside the window, Beth saw Penny running toward her. The pit bull didn’t have Charlee at her side, but relief washed over Beth nonetheless. She knew that Charlee would turn up soon. Penny, she reasoned, “was not going to leave that baby until she got here.”
Beth didn’t know it, but right about the time Penny showed up at her house, a neighbor just a few blocks away, Wayne Brown, below, received a surprising visitor of his own.
Wayne had spent three hours the day prior searching for Charlee, and on that Friday evening, he saw a bob of blonde hair at his door. At first, he was startled by the visitor. But then he noticed what she was wearing.
Yep, Charlee had wandered onto Wayne’s back porch, still wearing her Frozen pajamas! Wayne brought her inside immediately where she threw up three times from dehydration. Ticks and scrapes covered her body, too. She was in rough shape.
Beth Campbell / Facebook
Wayne gave Charlee water—which she gulped down—and alerted the authorities who brought her to the local hospital. She’d lost her diaper in her time away from home, but amazingly, didn’t accrue any serious injuries. But what happened to her in those woods?
After rushing to the hospital to greet Charlee with her favorite stuffed animal, the Campbells started putting the story together. And every theory had a special hero.
Darcy Costello / Courier Journal
“This is our hero right here,” Beth said of her pit bull Penny. She believed the dog protected Charlee during her entire time away from home. Together, the two survived in amid the tick-ridden brush and the summer heat, until Penny led Charlee home.
Charlee “is our life, our life revolves around her,” Beth said. “I just couldn’t imagine my life without her, and I don’t want to.” Still, investigators had questions before closing the case.
Darcy Costello / Courier Journal
How, for instance, had Charlee and Penny stayed hidden from the volunteers and trained rescue teams only to turn up less than a mile away from where she’d gone missing? Had the duo laid down behind a log and just… disappeared from view?
Regardless, her survival, according to Sheriff Tinnell, was nothing short of spectacular. “I can’t believe she survived it,” he said. “There’s coyotes in them hills. There’s copperheads and rattlesnakes and ticks—all the elements.”
To thank Penny for protecting such a major part of her life, Beth planned a small celebration: besides a few extra doggie treats, the friendly pit bull received a few cheeseburgers for dinner!
While all the facts have yet to come out, the timing of Penny’s and Charlee’s re-emergence certainly suggests the two had been together in the dangerous Kentucky wilderness. And if that was the case, Penny was no doubt a heroic pit bull—a good girl, indeed!
Animal intuition is one of the strongest forces on Earth. Not only are animals incredibly in-tune with the world around them, but their natural instincts allow them to make quick decisions in pressing situations.
When Nana Chaichanhda of Stockton, California brought a baby pit bull named Sasha into her home, she initially had reservations. With her seven-month-old daughter Masailah also in the house, Nana was nervous about how the dog would behave around her baby girl.
aree rodriguez / Flickr
But Nana was convinced that, with the proper training, Sasha would grow to be the perfect playmate for Masailah. As it turns out, Nana’s intuition was completely right.
With each passing day, the bond between Sasha and Masailah grew until the two became inseparable. In fact, Sasha was so protective of Masailah that the dog wouldn’t even let her take a bubble bath alone!
Now that Sasha had officially become part of the family, it wasn’t uncommon to find her snuggled up in bed alongside Nana and Masailah. But one fateful night, Nana decided to do things differently…
On June 6, 2018, Nana decided to let Sasha sleep outside in the backyard. Being that it was a warm summer’s night, Nana figured that the dog would enjoy getting out of the stuffy apartment and into the fresh air.
Soon after putting Sasha outside, Nana took Masailah to their bedroom and the pair was asleep within minutes. But it wasn’t long before Nana was stirred awake by an unexpected sound: a dog barking.
Erika B. / Flickr
At first, Nana wrote off the barking as that of a neighbor’s dog. After all, Sasha had never been one to bark, especially as loud as the dog outside.
But as the frantic barking continued, Nana knew that something was wrong. She hurried downstairs and threw open the back door, where her fears were confirmed.
Even when she was back inside the house, Sasha still wouldn’t calm down. It was like she was desperate to get Nana’s attention at all costs! When that didn’t work, Sasha tried another tactic…
Suddenly, the dog made a mad dash for the upstairs bedroom where Masailah was still sleeping. But before Nana could chase after her, the sight of something outside stopped her in her tracks.
To Nana’s horror, large flames were spewing out of the apartment complex next door. Worse yet, the blaze was quickly spreading toward her own unit!
Before she could even think, the fire had now reached her apartment complex and was growing rapidly. With only moments to spare, Nana rushed upstairs to save Sasha and Masailah.
When she reached the bedroom, Nana was stunned at what she found. Not only was Sasha completely calm in the face of such great danger, but she was trying to save Masailah as well!
Gripping the infant by her diaper, Sasha had managed to pull Masailah out of her crib and was carefully trying to drag her out of the room. Nana grabbed Sasha and the baby and dashed out of the apartment.
As soon as Nana and her family had safely left the building, she called 911. The fire department arrived within minutes, and after rescuing the remaining tenants in the apartment complex, they began fighting the massive fire.
It took several hours for firefighters to completely extinguish the blaze, but when the smoke finally cleared, the tenants were relieved to find that many of the units hadn’t suffered severe damage. However, the same couldn’t be said for Nana.
Because Nana’s apartment had been so close to the initial fire, her entire unit, and everything in it, was destroyed. With their home and their possessions lost, Nana and her family were forced to move in with her aunt. But that’s not all…
The Orange County Register
Nana’s aunt’s apartment building didn’t allow pets, so Sasha had to be separated from Masailah and kept with another family member. Even though Nana brings Masailah to visit often, it’s clear that Sasha really misses her best friend.
Since the fire, a GoFundMe campaign was started in order to help Nana and her family rebuild their lives. They’re still trying to pick up the pieces of what they once had, but Nana knows that without Sasha, she and Masailah wouldn’t be here today.
“Without her, we probably would’ve never made it out,” Nana said of her heroic dog. “I owe Sasha my life… she saved us all. She is our hero.”