DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Following the trial of Joseph Daniels, mixed emotions circulated through the Dickson County community.
Many residents have followed the case since the search for “Baby Joe” began more than three years ago.
“I think the town today is both relieved and still carrying a sense of just being heartbroken,” said Luke Williams with the Tennessee City Volunteer Fire Department.
Williams helped search for Baby Joe and remembers the heartbreak of returning without answers each day.
“It was a lot of anger of like ‘we shouldn’t have to be doing this,’” Williams said. “In no world should a scenario like this ever have happened.”
Although Joseph Daniels was found guilty of second-degree murder, that didn’t bring closure to some in the town of Dickson.
“I’m glad to know that he got charged and found guilty,” Dickson resident Sue Connor said. “I pray they find the mother guilty and charged as well.”
For Conner, Baby Joe’s case especially bothers her as she also has a great nephew who has autism, like Baby Joe.
“I don’t understand how people can abuse children,” Conner said. “They are a gift from God, and they should be protected and loved and mentored by their families, especially their moms and dads.”
Christy Pharris lives down the road from the Daniels’ home; she still keeps an eye out for signs of Baby Joe.
“There’s a little pond right off the road and I look, not thinking [of] gruesomely finding something, but sitting there saying ‘Could he be there? Could he be there?’ You know?” Pharris said.
Pharris said the trial brought frustration without any clear answers about where Baby Joe might be.
“He needs to be laid to rest or he needs to be found. I just hope somebody will say something,” Pharris said. “It’s just sad that it has happened to some child in our community that just didn’t deserve anything like that.”
At the end of the day, however, some say the verdict was a step in the right direction.
“We wanted there to be justice for Baby Joe and I think today we definitely got justice for Baby Joe and I think that’s huge,” Williams said. “But I also think with that comes still a lot of grief and pain. Still a lot of lack of closure to what happened to Baby Joe.”
Baby Joe’s mother, Krystal Daniels, will be tried separately from Joseph Daniels. In the meantime, officials ask residents to keep their eyes peeled for any signs of Baby Joe around town or on their properties.