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Charges upgraded for mother of 5-year-old found dead in Highlands County lake in July

HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. — A 29-year-old mother is facing more serious charges related to the death of her 5-year-old son who was found dead in a lake in July, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office announced on Friday.

Chance Peterkin, 5, was found in Lake Lelia early on the morning of Friday, July 24 after an extensive search. His cause of death was determined to be drowning, the sheriff’s office says.

Peterkin’s mother, Philletta Moransit, is now facing an aggravated manslaughter charge. Authorities say she initially arrested for aggravated child neglect and resisting an officer.

5-year-old Chance Peterkin

Moransit and Peterkin were reported missing around 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 23 after they left a home on Purcell Street that morning. Detectives are still looking for anyone who may have seen them walk from that location to the lake.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Woman arrested after 5-year-old son found dead in Highlands County lake

Moransit was located on shortly before 8 p.m. that day on the campus of South Florida State College, the sheriff’s office said at the time. They said she was uncooperative with the investigation into her son’s whereabouts.

“She was not cooperative with deputies, the child wasn’t with her. She just wasn’t cooperative about telling us when the last time she had her son or anything,” said Highlands County Sheriff spokesman Scott Dressel at the time.

If you have any information, please call 863-402-7250 or email Tips can also be left using the HCSO smartphone app or with Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS or

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