On a Saturday evening in late May, emergency dispatchers in West Virginia received a call about a sick baby.

When responders arrived on the scene, however, they learned that the caller didn't have custody of the child, who had "apparently been abandoned" at the house, according to a Fayette County Sheriff's Department news release.

That's when deputies were sent out to the home, too.

Investigators found that earlier in the day, a couple brought the 3-month-old baby to the home, the release states. And then that couple tried to sell the infant for US$500 to US$1000 ($722 -$1445), according to witness accounts.


"Law enforcement officers frequently deal with some pretty strange situations," Sheriff Steve Kessler said. "A situation like this is really out of the ordinary though."

No one actually agreed to buy the baby, according to the release. But the couple just left it there anyway. "Witnesses were able to identify the male who had tried to sell the child but did not know the female accompanying him," the release states.

Authorities believe that the woman was the baby's biological mother, Ashley Nichole Harmon, 25. Harmon has been taken into custody in connection with the incident, with Jonathan Isaac Lucas Flint, 20, described in the release as Harmon's fiancé.

Flint and Harmon are on charges that include selling or attempting to sell a child. It was unclear if they already had lawyers.

The 911 caller, Carolyn Redden, told WSAZ that the couple asked her to babysit the child after she declined to buy it from them. They eventually returned a day later, but by that time, child protective services had taken the baby, Redden told the station.

"It is a sad commentary on the society in which we live that we actually have to codify laws prohibiting the sale or attempted sale of innocent young children," prosecuting lawyer Larry Harrah said.

"My office has been working closely with the Sheriff's Office and Child Protective Services since we first learned of this complaint, and we intend to vigorously pursue the criminal charges filed in connection with this matter."