REED CITY, Mich. (WOOD) — “Ron’s dead.”
That’s the first thing Megan Wheelock says her 2-year-old daughter, Haleigh, told her Tuesday after they were reunited at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Earlier the same day, Haleigh was discovered in a home just outside Kent City along with the body of Ron Finkler. It’s not yet clear when Finkler died, but authorities say the last time anyone had heard from him was Saturday, which means Haleigh could have been fending for herself for more than two days.
Haleigh had been living with Finkler, a family friend, part-time while her mother worked in Reed City in Osceola County. Haleigh’s father is locked up on cocaine charges.
Wheelock said Finkler was supposed to bring Haleigh to Reed City on Sunday for Mother’s Day, but never showed up.
“I called and I called and called and my number was blocked in his phone and I didn’t know why,” she said.
Wheelock said she and Finkler would get into arguments from time to time after which he would block her number — sometimes for a couple of hours, sometimes for a couple of days — so she wasn’t overly concerned when she couldn’t reach him.
Wheelock says her mother-in-law was able to get through and talked to Haleigh. Finkler never got on that call, but there was still no worry.
“That was typical of her … to answer Uncle Ron’s phone. That was typical,” Wheelock said.
Wheelock continued to call and tried to get to Kent City, but didn’t have a ride. She kept trying to contact Finkler.
“I was trying. I was trying,” she said. “I had everybody trying, everybody.”
Finally, after three days of waiting, she says she called authorities and asked them to check the home. That’s when they found Finkler dead and Haleigh surviving on her own.
“She’s amazing,” Wheelock said.
Haleigh was treated for possible dehydration and a possible urinary tract infection, but is otherwise OK. She is staying with her maternal grandmother as Children’s Protective Services investigates.
Wheelock said she plans to give guardianship of Haleigh to her aunt while she figures out a better work situation.
There was no immediate sign of foul play in Finkler’s death. Authorities are awaiting autopsy results to learn more about how and when the 49-year-old died.