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Mother of missing toddler arrested for giving police false information and changing stories

First, the mother told police her toddler was with the girl's father. But the father was stationed hundreds of miles away in the Army, court documents state - and family had not seen little Evelyn for two months.

Later, 18-year-old Megan Boswell told news station WCYB she had left her child with a trusted babysitter whom she could not name. Asked why she had not contacted authorities, Ms Boswell cryptically said: “I knew that as soon as anything went down this person was going to disappear.”

And this week, Ms Boswell told WJHL the babysitter, her mum, had taken 15-month-old Evelyn to a campground in another state. But authorities said they found nothing there.

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The shifting statements caught up with the young Blountville Tennessee woman on Tuesday, authorities said, as she was jailed on a charge of false reporting and accused of hampering investigators scrambling to find a child who was not reported missing until last week.

“Every time we talk to her, her story changes,” Sullivan County sheriff Jeff Cassidy said of Ms Boswell at a news conference on Wednesday. “I'm serious when I say that. Every single time.”

A week after issuing a statewide Amber Alert, police looking for Evelyn Mae Boswell said they remained frustrated by a deeply confusing case. Precisely when Evelyn was last seen is unclear, they said, amid conflicting accounts.

Whatever the exact date, police know their efforts are coming late.

“Two months before she's even reported missing?” Sheriff Cassidy said on Wednesday. “It puts us behind.”

County district attorney Barry Staubus told The Post he thinks that lawyers have yet to be appointed for Megan Boswell and her mother, who has also been questioned. Neither of the women could be reached for comment.

Evelyn was designated as missing 18 February after a referral from the Department of Children's Services, authorities said.

The toddler was last seen in a pink tracksuit, pink shoes and pink bow. Home videos shared by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation show the child taking wobbling steps and grasping at the camera.

Police have been working “nonstop” to find her, following up on more than 570 tips, the sheriff said.

Sheriff Cassidy confirmed a police search on Wednesday of a pond in Wilkes County, North Carolina, was related to the investigation in Tennessee. The Wilkes County Sheriff's Office, which did not respond to questions from The Post on Wednesday, told WSOC-TV the search was “inconclusive.” Sullivan County sheriff's spokesman Andy Seabolt said his office did not receive the information that sparked that search.

That search was underway in Wilkes County, where Evelyn's grandmother, Angela Boswell, was arrested after authorities found her and her boyfriend with an allegedly stolen car, according to Knox News. The older Ms Boswell was extradited back to Tennessee on Monday, according to the newspaper, and her bond for an unrelated case was revoked, leaving her in jail - where she was soon joined by her daughter.

Megan Boswell's arrest added yet another layer to what the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Josh DeVine called “a very complicated case.”

“We know you have a lot questions about this case,” he said in a video posted to the bureau's social media. “So do we.”

Authorities' focus is on finding Evelyn, Mr DeVine said. The sheriff, too, emphasised that he's still praying for a happy ending.

“We're going to continue to work just like she is alive,” he said.

Megan Boswell is being held on $25,000 (£19,500) bond, according to law enforcement. WJHL reports she appeared by video for her arraignment on Wednesday and has another court date set for Monday.

An affidavit for her one count of false reporting does not say what, exactly, gave rise to the charge. But it recounts her claims Evelyn was with the child's father. Megan Boswell also told law enforcement she was meeting the father the following day, even though he was stationed in Louisiana, the court document states.

As Evelyn's disappearance became a major news story - one local TV station is advertising a tip line in its Facebook cover photo beneath pictures of the child - the younger Ms Boswell told reporters she regretted not going to authorities about her daughter “the first day” she went missing. But she brushed off other suggestions of wrongdoing.

“You talk to anybody who actually knows me, you know, they know that I would never hurt Evelyn or do anything like that,” she said in a video posted by WCYB.

“We all just want the baby back,” she added.

She also said she had volunteered for a polygraph test but was turned away because she is pregnant.

But the county sheriff said on Wednesday that Ms Boswell never discussed a polygraph test with authorities.

As for the claim of pregnancy, he said: “I'll leave that to her.”

The Washington Post