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Bruised Kankakee Toddler Taken From Hospital, Police Issue Alert

Artistic Fletcher, 1, was declared missing after his father took him out of a Kankakee hospital amid an investigation into the cause of the boy's bruises. (Police handout)

Artistic Fletcher, 1, was declared missing after his father took him out of a Kankakee hospital amid an investigation into the cause of the boy’s bruises. (Police handout)

Dana Kozlov Dana Kozlov
Dana Kozlov is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. She...
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KANKAKEE, Ill. (CBS) — The search for a missing Kankakee boy could be over by Monday, but police say he’s still at risk.

Artistic Fletcher, who is 1, was in the hospital with bruises on his body. Police say his father took him out against medical advice.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports the boy’s family is ready to bring him to police on Monday.

Friends of the toddler’s parents, Arty and Kirsten, say he is safe. They are defending Artistic’s parents, saying not only didn’t they hurt their little boy, but also they fled out of fear the state’s child-welfare agency would take their children away without properly investigating the matter.

Still, the Fletchers and their toddler remained missing three days after police issued an “endangered missing persons advisory” for the little boy.

Michelle Bernal says fear and wrongful accusations by the Department of Children and Family Services sparked the ordeal. It began last week, when Artistic’s mom picked him up from daycare and noticed bruises on his upper thighs, bottom and arm.

Bernal says Kirsten Fletcher immediately took him to Provena St. Mary’s Hospital and called her DCFS caseworker — they were in the system — and police were notified. Bernal says doctors even released Artistic, but then the family fled.

“They are two of the most loving, caring parents you would ever want to know,” Bernal says.  “What would you do if it was your child? You did everything you were supposed to do – you went to the police, you went to the hospital, you called DCFS and then the answer you got was, ‘I’m about to take your children away from you.’”

Supporters of the parents say the toddler received his bruises at his daycare — not at home — and want investigative efforts focused there. Even so, Jason Gilreath says Artistic’s parents want this to end. He said the boy’s mother said she had talked with a lawyer and was “hoping on Monday to clear everything up.”

That may take some doing. There are a total of three children involved now.  The police notice mentions DCFS wanting to take all of the children into protective custody.

DCFS spokesman Jimmie Whitelow would not answer any questions about this case, citing legal restrictions.