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Mother accused of abandoning disabled 21-year-old son hospitalized

He was abandoned under a blanket in the woods. A Bible lay on his chest. And he had been in that position for five days.

He was abandoned under a blanket in the woods. A Bible lay on his chest.

And he had been in that position for five days.

The 21-year-old man, who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, was found Friday night in Cobbs Creek Park, when a man walking through the woods stumbled across him and called 911.

The disabled man's mother had dumped him there, police said, sometime before 10 a.m. Monday, when she boarded a bus to visit her boyfriend in Maryland.

Her son was left on a pile of leaves, through rain and temperatures that plunged into the high 30s. He was alone and helpless, police said, with neither food nor water.

On Saturday, he remained hospitalized at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was being treated for malnutrition and dehydration. Charges were pending against his mother, identified by police as Nyia Parler, 41, of Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia.

Parler was admitted to a hospital Sunday morning with an undisclosed affliction. "When her treatment is completed, we will take her to court and she can either waive or fight extradition," said Capt. Paul Starks of the Montgomery County, Md., police.

Philadelphia police said at a news conference that they planned to begin a larger investigation into the care and living conditions of the young man, who is nonverbal and severely impaired.

"This kid's obviously a fighter," said Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker. "It's just unbelievable how we found him out there. . . . It's absolutely heartbreaking to see another human, especially a mother, can treat someone like that."

Relatives last saw Parler on Easter evening, police said.

When her son did not arrive for classes at School of the Future in West Philadelphia on Monday, school officials attempted to call the woman. They also reached two of her sisters, and one of them contacted police.

The mother told her sisters and a police officer that her son was in Maryland with her and her boyfriend, Walker said.

But around sunset Friday, a man who was taking a walk along a Cobbs Creek Park trail spotted a wheelchair. Stepping off the path, he came upon the disabled man lying nearby.

As officials responded to the 911 call, Walker said, one of the man's aunts arrived because she had gotten word that her nephew might be the man left in the woods. She identified him and asked authorities to transport him to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he had received treatment in the past.

Condition stabilizing

Walker, who visited the man and his family in the hospital Saturday, said his condition has stabilized. He had a cut on his back that was at risk of infection, Walker said, and his time in the rain and cold weather may have damaged his eyes.

Relatives were at the hospital with him, including two aunts who Walker said had tried to obtain guardianship of him in the last few years.

Parler lived in a rowhouse on Baltimore Avenue near the park where the man was abandoned, police said. She also has a 16-year-old child, who has been staying with an aunt.

No one answered the door at the home Saturday afternoon.

One neighbor said she did not know the family, but had often seen the young man, sitting in his wheelchair on the sidewalk.

"If it was nice out, they would be sitting outside," said the woman, who declined to give her name.

On Saturday, police said Parler remained with her boyfriend in Montgomery County, Md., where local authorities were assisting in the investigation and were prepared to make an arrest.

No ramp

The mother has "clear criminal liability in this case," Walker said, and warrants have been signed for charges including aggravated assault, neglect of a care-dependent person, unlawful restraint, kidnapping, and false imprisonment.

Police have also contacted the Department of Human Services and Adult Protective Services.

"There will be a longer-term portion of this investigation to see what happened here as far as this kid and the care that's been provided to him for basically his entire life," Walker said.

One immediate concern, Walker noted, was that the family's home had no ramp for a wheelchair.

He added that there was no reason for the man to suffer neglect, because other relatives had tried to care for him.

"You had family members who were willing to help out with the care of this child," Walker said.

He said the young man was fortunate to be alive.

"This kid cannot defend himself," Walker said. "He does not function at all. It could have been a lot worse than it is."

610-313-8116 @Lmccrystal