A missing 17-month-old girl from California was found on the University of Kentucky campus on December 27. A telephone call from a concerned citizen led police to the girl who had been missing for over two months.
Safe and sound, the toddler is currently being cared for by Kentucky Child Protective Services.
ABC News reports that 17-month-old Alouette Day-Moreno-Baltierra of Los Angeles was discovered in a University of Kentucky parking lot after police received reports of a suspicious female walking the grounds with a stroller.
Responding officers observed that the child in the stroller was not properly dressed for the below-freezing temperatures, lacking coverings on her feet, head, and hands.
When approached by University officers, the woman identified herself as the child’s grandparent and refused to cooperate with further questioning. Authorities then traced the toddler’s birth certificate and learned that child was reported missing and last seen October 16 in an area of Los Angeles.
During a press conference on December 28 University of Kentucky Police Chief Joe Monroe stated:
“This is an example of where the responding officers followed a gut feeling that something just wasn’t right with the situation. We have been working with the Child Protective Services, LAPD and the FBI to make sure that we get Alouette returned safely to her legal custodian.”
An article by the Los Angeles Daily News writes that the woman, identified as 62-year-old Maria Baltierra-Dejesus, is now being detained by police and has been charged with child endangerment and custodial interference.
It is thought that Baltierra-Dejesus and the missing child may have been staying somewhere in Lexington, Kentucky over the course of several days, although the reasons are unclear.
In a strange twist, during the woman’s arrest police discovered receipts from wire transfers purchased by members of the Baltierra-Dejesus family. Police Chief Monroe speculated on their purpose:
“Family members were financially supporting the alleged grandmother since the baby has been missing, since October, while she’s been on the run with the child. We’ve received word [that] on one occasion she’s tried to leave the country with the baby, possibly a second time. She received passports issued while she was in California, which dated a week before the child went missing in October.”
What do you think of the missing 17-month-old girl from California being found on the University of Kentucky campus?