Man who left baby in Western Montana woods sentenced to prison

Posted at 9:27 AM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 11:27:27-04

MISSOULA – The man who left his 5-month-old nephew partially buried in the woods last year near Lolo Hot Springs will spend at least 20 years in prison after being sentenced in a Missoula courtroom Tuesday afternoon.

Francis Crowley, 33, pleaded guilty to criminal endangerment and child criminal endangerment in February. Authorities said the child was in Crowley’s care at the time of the incident.

Crowley and the child’s mother camped in the area and when others noticed the child was gone, they called the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.

The baby was found in the woods and rushed to the hospital after an extensive search. The baby survived the ordeal.

Crowley was emotional while addressing the judge and others involved in the case.

“This has completely changed my life. It doesn’t matter what the sentence is that I get — like, it’s done. I need help though. I’m going to go prison though for what? Who am I? I’m a rat,” he said. “How do you think I feel…that you’re the one who found him when I was supposed to be there for him?  I have to tell my little nieces that I almost killed their little brother.”

Crowley was sentenced to 10 years in prison on two of the felony counts he faced.

On a third felony count, Crowley was sentenced to 10 years, but that sentence was suspended.

(September 12, 2018) Francis Carlton Crowley, accused of leaving a baby in the woods near Lolo Hot Springs for hours, appeared in court via video conference on Tuesday.

Crowley is facing one count of assault on a minor and one count of criminal endangerment for the July 7th incident which occurred near Lolo Hot Springs.

Crowley allegedly crashed a car into the woods with a child in the vehicle. He walked away from the scene with the child but eventually left the five-month-old in the woods because he grew tired of carrying it.

Court documents state that Crowley admitted to officers that he was high on meth and bath salts at the time of the crash. The baby was found after spending several hours alone in the woods west of Lolo. The baby was treated for exposure and has since recovered.

Crowley was scheduled to make an omnibus appearance but because of an issue with paperwork being filed, the omnibus date has been moved to October 9th. The defense also requested the added time so they can process a flash drive that contains evidence, and talk with a new witness.

Crowley was asked if he had been served notice and if he is aware that a motion to increase punishment has been filed. Crowley told the judge that he had not seen those papers.