Mother, boyfriend who were high on meth charged after toddler drowns in New River, sheriff says

Josie Burleson's body found early Wednesday morning

By Samantha Smith - Digital Content Producer, Jenna Zibton - Anchor, Rachel Lucas - Anchor / Reporter, Colter Anstaett - Reporter

WYTHE COUNTY, Va. - Authorities arrested a 3-year-old girl's mother and her boyfriend after the girl drowned in the New River while the pair was under the influence of meth, according to Wythe County Sheriff Keith Dunagan.

Josie Burleson was found dead in the New River just after 1 a.m. Wednesday after authorities say her mother, Kimberly Moore, and boyfriend, Adrian Puckett, reported her missing.

Moore and Puckett told authorities that Burleson was playing near the New River trail outside of their rental property on Rocky Road when she wandered off. 

Adrian Puckett (left), Kimberly Moore (right). Courtesy of New River Regional Jail.

Moore and Puckett have been charged with reckless endangerment. The sheriff said more charges could be pending.

Moore has previous felony charges for grand larceny and possession of a controlled substance. 

"In this case, the parents of the child didn't pay attention and now they lost their child. The reason they weren't paying attention is because they were under the influence of methamphetamine," said Dunagan. "That's why this child is deceased now."

Dunagan was unsure if Puckett is Burleson's father. 

"I believe that the child would be alive today if the adults that were supposed to be supervising her weren't high," said Dunagan.

Moore and Puckett have been arrested and are being held at the New River Regional Jail. 

Authorities say more than 100 people were searching for Burleson for more than 5 and a half hours by performing grid searches up and down the river, and that the search started within minutes of first responder's getting to the rental home. 

Dunagan said there have been drownings in the New River before, but "when it's a small child, it's really different. Probably the worst thing for the responders is the fact that it is a small child because it tugs at your heart a little bit more." 

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