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Missing Fla. infant’s parents were investigated

CHIPLEY — Florida child welfare workers began investigating allegations of abuse against a missing infant less than two weeks after she was born, according to records released Wednesday as the search continued.

Search teams have spent days searching for 7-month-old Shannon Dedrick in the wooded area surrounding the family’s mobile home outside of Chipley, a rural Panhandle town. The girl was repored missing around 11 a.m. Saturday. Her parents have said they last saw her around 3 a.m.

Florida’s Department of Children and Families released records Wednesday showing investigators frequently visited the infant’s home from August to late September. They reported that both of the parents used marijuana and the home was messy.

But the investigators said the baby appeared to be cared for. The risk to the child was repeatedly listed as “intermediate.”

On Sept. 18, an investigator said a physician had determined Shannon was healthy and had “expressed no concerns regarding the baby.”

According to the DCF files, a woman named Susan Baker wrote an e-mail in August to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s office, pleading for the governor to help Shannon Dedrick.

“That child needs help and no one is helping her,” Susan Baker wrote in the Aug. 12 e-mail.

Police reports show a woman named Susan Elizabeth Baker was charged in South Carolina in 1987 with assault and battery with intent to kill and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. She was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, but the sentence was suspended to 80 days.

In 2000, that woman was extradited to South Carolina from Chipley, Fla. and charged in the disappearance of 3-year-old Paul Leonard Baker. The child has not been found, and the case is in “cold status,” said Robin McIntosh, spokeswoman for the Beaufort County, S.C., Sheriff’s office.

Authorities would not immediately confirm if the Susan Baker convicted in the South Carolina case was the same woman who wrote to the governor about Shannon.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s office has sent an investigator to Florida to assist in the missing child case, McIntosh said.