A search for a man wanted in connection with the death of a 2-year-old Norman boy has shifted to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge in Comanche County, law enforcement officials confirmed.
The search for Christopher James Trent, 38, was scheduled to resume Friday morning with bloodhounds and drones, Comanche County Sheriff Kenny Stradley said. Lawmen encountered problems Thursday when law enforcement drones were restricted from flying above the wildlife refuge, which is adjacent to Fort Sill, a U.S. Army Base in Lawton.
“We worked on that (flying drones) the biggest part of the day,” the sheriff said. “We even made a call to Washington to allow us in there. It’s federal air space over Fort Sill. We’ll continue to search until we believe he’s gone.”
Tactical teams and a helicopter from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol were called to the scene Thursday, Stradley said. Comanche County deputies remained at the scene Thursday night.
Police believe Trent is responsible for the death of the toddler who had signs of child abuse and physical trauma when he was taken to the hospital Wednesday, a police report shows. A warrant was issued for Trent’s arrest on a first-degree murder complaint Wednesday night.
Police found Trent’s vehicle in Medicine Park in southwestern Oklahoma Wednesday night. However, Stradley said the car has not been searched.
“That’s Norman’s deal,” he said. “They were getting a search warrant for that.”
A wrecker hauled the car away from the area where it was found, the sheriff said. He did not know late Thursday if the car had been taken back to Norman.
Stradley said his office has dealt with Trent on one previous occasion when the suspect threatened to kill himself.
“He parked his car in the same exact place as he did this time and went out on foot,” the sheriff said.
The boy’s death came to light Wednesday when Norman police responded to a call in the 700 block of Vicksburg Avenue at 10:43 a.m. Officers found the boy inside the residence, but he wasn’t breathing, a police report shows. The toddler was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The child had been in the care of the mother’s live-in boyfriend at the time of the alleged abuse, according to a police statement. Trent was not at the residence when police arrived on the scene.
Norman police requested the assistance of Oklahoma Park Rangers, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Comanche County Sheriff’s Office to complete a ground and air search in the area of the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge.
The rugged and rocky mixed-grass prairie is home to thousands of bison, elk and longhorn cattle. Temperatures in the Lawton area are supposed to be in the 40s and 50s on Friday with north winds up to 15 miles per hour.
Trent has previous Oklahoma County convictions for assault and battery on a police officer, driving under the influence and driving while under suspension. He also received deferred sentences for resisting arrest and public drunk in Cleveland County.
Anyone with information about the suspect’s whereabouts or other information should call Norman Crime Stoppers at 405-366-STOP (7867).
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