Mother pleads guilty to abandoning 5-year-old nonverbal son with autism

This photo provided by law enforcement shows 33-year-old Heather Adkins.
This photo provided by law enforcement shows 33-year-old Heather Adkins.(Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 3:54 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2022 at 5:51 PM CDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX/Gray News) - An Indiana woman pleaded guilty to child endangerment Monday for abandoning her 5-year-old nonverbal son with autism in Colerain Township, Ohio, earlier this year.

Heather Adkins, 33, was indicted in March on kidnapping and endangering children charges that could have put her in prison for a maximum of 11 years.

But now, in exchange for the plea deal, the kidnapping charge was dropped and she faces a sentence of five years probation to three years in prison.

She is scheduled to be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 28 before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Jennifer Branch.

Adkins drove from Indiana to Tennessee in February to drop off two of her three children with a friend and then abandoned her son on the way back in Colerain Township, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

She drove to Copper Creek Lane on Feb. 17 and “basically kicked the kid out of the car,” Deters has said.

The boy was left in the pouring rain on a cold night on a road without sidewalks, according to Deters.

Passing motorists spotted the soaking wet child and called 911 around 9 p.m., according to court documents and recordings of 911 calls.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Deters said back in March when Adkins was indicted, ”to imagine what this nonverbal, 5-year-old boy went through. I’m certain he was confused and hurt. His mother, being the person with whom he totally depended upon, dumps him on a dangerous road - in the pouring rain - to fend for himself, 70 miles from his home.”

Once the boy was in the care of the police, they shared his photo with WXIX and other media, asking for help to find his family.

Shelbyville residents saw the photos and recognized the child as Martin Thomas Adkins.

The boy’s mother was arrested in Kentucky two days later on an unrelated outstanding warrant.

She initially claimed in a jailhouse interview that she left her son with a friend and did not abandon him.

“I didn’t. That’s why he was left there, and I’m to go back there, so he knows that I never left him. It’s just going to take a long time for him to trust me again and for me to trust myself as well,” she said.

Her story changed several times as she spoke with WXIX from the jail in Georgetown on Feb. 20.

She even claimed at one point she never left him in Colerain Township, saying he was with his brothers at her friend’s house in Tennessee.

Adkins eventually admitted she left her son alone:

“No, I didn’t leave him with anyone. I knew I would be forgiven. It would take a long time. I just had to be able to get rid of one last demon. All the burdens that I’ve carried for all these years that were never meant to be mine.”