Commonwealth’s Attorney won’t pursue criminal charges in missing child investigation

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – In a statement released Thursday morning, the Hanover County Commonwealth's Attorney announced he would not pursue criminal charges following the massive search for a missing boy in Hanover.

Trip Chalkley said criminal charges can't be supported legally or factually based on his review of the events of the search for Robert Wood, Jr., comprehensive reports, and meetings with Hanover Sheriff David R. Hines.

The Hanover Sheriff's Office added late Thursday morning that there is conclusive evidence Robert Wood, Jr. was alone from October 23 to October 28.

In regards to the citizen who found Wood, the Sheriff's Office stated, "There is no cause whatsoever to conclude that his actions were anything other than honorable."

Both statements have been posted below.

We're told Robert Wood, Jr. could be released from VCU Medical Center later today.

Statement from Hanover Commonwealth's Attorney:

"I, like all of our community, rejoice in the safe return of Robert Wood, Jr., to his family.

I, as others, express my appreciation to the Hanover County Sheriff's Office, the Ashland Town Police, the Virginia State Police, the numerous law enforcement agencies outside of Hanover County, Hanover County Fire and EMS and other agencies' first responders, and the countless number of volunteers whose selfless commitment were instrumental to a remarkable outcome.

I was, through the courtesy of Sheriff David R. Hines, able to be present at the command site for several days and was able to be present at informational meetings.  The personnel of the Sheriff's Department and other agencies provided me constant information on a daily basis as to developments.

After the event, I have met with Sheriff Hines and members of his department to review the findings and information.  As usual, those findings and reports are comprehensive, detailed and factual.

Upon a review of the events and the reports, and my meetings with Colonel Hines and members of his office, I will not pursue criminal charges in this matter as none can be supported legally and/or factually.

My thanks again to all who assisted in Robert Wood, Jr.'s return to his family."

Release from Hanover Sheriff's Office:

A comprehensive criminal investigation, which began when Robert A. Wood Jr. was reported missing on October 23, 2011, was provided to the Hanover Commonwealth's Attorney Trip Chalkley and a determination has been made that there is no information to support a criminal charge.

The investigation revealed that the circumstances that led to the Robert A. Wood Jr. missing child investigation did not rise to the level that would necessitate criminal charges. In addition, there is conclusive evidence that Robert A. Wood Jr. was in the wooded area alone, near the North Anna Battlefield Park, between October 23, when he was reported missing, and October 28, when he was found by a citizen.

The citizen who found Robert A. Wood Jr. has cooperated fully with Investigators and every aspect of his discovery has been validated. There is no cause whatsoever to conclude that his actions were anything other than honorable.

"Members of the Sheriff's Office joined the community in celebration when Robert was reunited with his family. The days leading up to his rescue developed into an unprecedented and coordinated public safety response. The unique quality of the strategy was the utilization of thousands of citizens in the search effort. Their deployment into search grids allowed a wider area to be covered in a relatively brief period of time. Our goal now is to ensure that our sincere thanks and gratitude reach the ears of those who participated in any way to the search effort," said Colonel David R. Hines, Sheriff of Hanover County.

This incident is a stark reminder of the benefits of the Project Lifesaver program. This program is offered in all metro Richmond jurisdictions and, if used properly, can allow for the quick recovery of lost persons. Residents of Hanover County who would like to find out more about the Project Lifesaver program are encouraged to contact the Sheriff's Office.

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