Hours into a search for a missing Greenwood toddler, police were getting desperate.

Three-year-old Michael Stepien hadn’t been seen since about 9:30 a.m. Monday, and it was now after 3 p.m.

Divers searched the retention pond in Sweetgrass, the toddler’s neighborhood, and found no sign of the boy. No one had called police reporting they had found a piece of his clothing or a shoe or seen him walking along a street.

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If he had fallen asleep somewhere, he surely would have woken up by now. Wasn’t he getting hungry? Had he gotten caught in the downpour and was somewhere cold, wet and scared?

“Where is this little boy? That’s all we kept thinking,” Greenwood Police Department spokeswoman Kortney Burrello said.

“It was just the worries of a parent. Most of us on this department are parents, and we think like parents.”

When an eighth-grader came home to find the boy in his house, a loud cheer went up in the neighborhood. People began running around; it was almost frantic. Michael was healthy, safe and dry. He had even found something to eat in the house, Burrello said.

“He was safe and that was the important thing. It was just a relief, a huge relief,” she said. “It was almost indescribable.”

Police are wrapping up their investigation into Michael’s six-hour disappearance.

On Monday morning, Michael and his father, Brian Stepien, got hungry? Had he gotten caught in the downpour and was somewhere cold, wet and scared?

“Where is this little boy? That’s all we kept thinking,” Greenwood Police Department spokeswoman Kortney Burrello said.

“It was just the worries of a parent. Most of us on this department are parents, and we think like parents.”

When an eighth-grader came home to find the boy in his house, a loud cheer went up in the neighborhood. People began running around; it was almost frantic. Michael was healthy, safe and dry. He had even found something to eat in the house, Burrello said.

“He was safe and that was the important thing. It was just a relief, a huge relief,” she said. “It was almost indescribable.”

Police are wrapping up their investigation into Michael’s six-hour disappearance.

On Monday morning, Michael and his father, Brian Stepien, got

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.