Two months before Charles Isaac Wood dropped off his 3-year-old daughter on the side of a road and drove into the path of an oncoming train, the girl was found alone and wandering near another road in Glen Carbon.
Police found Anikah Wood holding the hand of a stranger near Glen Crossing Road on Oct. 22 at about 12:30 p.m. She had wandered away while her father was sleeping, Wood told police.
And it wasn’t the first time. During questioning by police, Wood told officers that Anikah wandered away a week before and was found on the bike trail behind their trailer park.
After the questioning, police called an ambulance to take Wood for a psychiatric evaluation. They called his mother to take care of Anikah. They also called the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to investigate Wood for child neglect.
DCFS was in the middle of its child-neglect investigation when Wood drove a silver Mitsubishi Eclipse north to Broadwell, which is north of Springfield, with Anikah in the car. At about 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 11, Wood stopped at West Oak Street, took Anikah out of the car, then got back into the car and turned onto the railroad tracks. A witness said the car was “going as fast as it would go” before being struck by the train.
Wood was killed instantly.
Inside the car, police found three different kinds of anti-depressants.
DCFS spokeswoman Veronica Resa said there was no immediate action that was going to occur around the time Wood drove onto the track. The department has 60 days to investigate allegations where there is no imminent danger to a child.
The department offers help to overwhelmed parents, Resa said.
“The last thing we want to do is break a father-daughter bond,” she said.
The last thing we want to do is break a father-daughter bond.
Veronica Resa, DCFS spokeswoman
In August, Wood took custody of Anikah to keep her from going to foster care. Anikah’s mother, Katlin Young, of Carlinville, signed over custody after mediation in Macoupin County. Wood’s lawyer, Christopher Hantla, said Young was battling an addiction and wanted to seek treatment.
“It seemed to me that the was a father trying to do the right thing in bad circumstances,” Hantla said.
Young, who could not be reached for comment, had at least one other child in foster care, Hantla recalled.
After getting custody of Anikah, Wood moved to Glen Carbon to live in his grandmother’s trailer, according to a Logan County sheriff’s report. His mother had come the night before he drove onto the railroad tracks. They were working to fix up the trailer, tearing up old carpet to replace it with new.
Wood’s mother told Logan County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Kuhlman that her son didn’t seem depressed or suicidal, but that he had been hospitalized for four days after Glen Carbon police found Anikah in October. He was prescribed medication for anxiety. She told the deputy that Wood “did not give her any concerns that he was suicidal and stated he would never leave his daughter.”
Wood’s mother told police he “did not give her any concerns that he was suicidal and stated he would never leave his daughter.”
In the pocket of Wood’s jeans, police found a debit card, health insurance card, Social Security card, credit cards and $339 in cash. They found a tablet and pills in the car. There is no mention in the police report of a note.
Toxicology taken at Wood’s autopsy revealed caffeine, nicotine and his prescription anti-depressant.
Anikah is with relatives now, Resa said. DCFS is suing Young for child support for the child she has in foster care. Attempts to have her served with the suit have been unsuccessful. She no longer works for the Carlinville nursing home she listed in her case with Wood.
Wood’s death was listed as a suicide.
After his death, DCFS found there was credible evidence Wood neglected Anikah.