Toddler’s mother says big piece of family missing after caretaker’s death

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KENT CITY, Mich. --  A 2-year-old girl was found alone in a Kent City home after the man taking care of her died.   Officials say she may have been in the home alone for several days.

The girl's mother, Megan Wheelock, says she was relieved to hear that her daughter Hailey was okay but devastated about the death of 49-year-old Ron Finkler.

Wheelock says Finkler had been helping take care of Hailey.  Finkler is not related to the toddler, but he took on a fatherly role in her life.

Wheelock, a single mom, says she's trying to juggle a job and take care of Hailey while she waits for her husband to get out of jail.   She says Finkler was a huge help.

"He's literally been our backbone," Wheelock said of Finkler.  "Babysitting Hailey for me when I had nobody to babysit for me.  He helped me 100 percent."

Wheelock said she talks to Ron every day and grew concerned when she didn't hear form him.  She says she got the news about his death when she contacted someone to go check on him.

She said Hailey was a little dehydrated but she did manage to eat while she was in the home.

Finkler was found dead Tuesday in a home in the 15000 block of Peach Ridge Avenue.

The Kent County Sheriff's Department says an autopsy showed no signs of trauma or foul play.  They believe he died of natural causes.

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