BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — A Buckhannon man has been charged after police said he left his children in the custody of someone who was unable to care for them, resulting in one of the children starting a fire inside the residence.
On June 20, officers with the Buckhannon Police Department responded to assist the Buckhannon Fire Department with a structure fire at a residence on East Main Street, according to a criminal complaint.
Upon speaking to a family member at the rear of the building, officers learned that a 6-year-old child in his custody had started the fire; the child’s father, Melvin Tyler, 29, of Buckhannon, was unable to be found in the area, officers said.
When Tyler showed up to the scene, officers spoke with him due to the fire department seeking out law enforcement to come to the scene after certain items were found inside of the residence, according to the complaint.
While searching the residence, officers said they found a plastic container with several razor blades and some used, uncapped needles — which were collected as evidence.
Officers then spoke to the family member who had been taking care of the 6-year-old boy and learned that he had taken a nap on the couch and when he woke up, Tyler was not there, so he said he “felt obligated to stay with the children so they wouldn’t be alone,” according to the complaint.
The family member then stated that “they were getting ready to ride hover boards when [the boy] came into the room and told him there was a fire,” and he made sure the children got out of the building safely, officers said.
When Tyler left the children with the family member, he did so knowing that the family member “is known to have psychological disorders and is not of the mental capacity to care for children,” and that Tyler “left the children alone with him without regards to safety,” according to the complaint.
According to Tyler’s family members, Tyler has “a history of disappearing for hours and the kids are left with whoever will watch the with no regards to the children’s personal safety,” officers said, and that there are “several accounts” from a local business owner of Tyler leaving his children without supervision.
Tyler has been charged with child neglect creating risk of injury. He is being held in Tygart Valley Regional Jail on $35,000 bond.