SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Eleven days ago, a woman left her two-year-old toddler with a stranger in a South Sacramento Walmart parking lot. She told that man she was being chased and took off in a car with two people.
Since then, a woman has come forward claiming to be this little girl’s mom. But several days later, there’s still no clarity on this case, and most importantly, what is ahead for the little girl.
It was on June 30 that the girl, only known as Jane Doe, was calling out for her mother at Fire Station 57. Since then, police say a woman claiming to be this child’s mother has come forward. Detectives believe she is the girl’s mother, and are working on confirming that relationship. But, nine days later, Sacramento police tell us that is all they know.
“In this case, there is obviously unknown information at this point,” said former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinnis.
He says police won’t just hand over little Doe to this woman without a lengthy investigation. The Sacramento Police Department tells us a maternity test will likely be conducted at some point, but by airtime could not confirm whether a test had been administered.
McGinnis says even if this woman is confirmed to be the child’s mother, she could still be facing charges.
“In this particular case, it looks clear on its face that she violated the letter of the law,” said McGinnis.
McGinnis says it’s possible she could be charged with child neglect. That’s because the woman dropped the child off with a stranger rather than at a safe space like a police department or fire station.
If she was in danger, that changes things.
“If it was done with good intentions because she feared for that child’s safety, then it’s not a criminal,” said McGinnis.
California’s Safe Surrender law allows newborns up to 72 hours old to be left at designated locations, no questioned asked. BUt this does not apply to children.
We asked the police why they aren’t releasing any information about this woman claiming to be the child’s mother. They say it’s because she’s either a victim of a domestic situation or a suspect.
“She is possibly somebody who is a suspect. She’s being investigated, so unless they’re prepared to charge, they won’t release her identity,” said McGinnis.
As for the child’s future, that’s up in the air.
McGinnis says it’s the protocol to try to reunite the mother and the child, but in this case, it may not be what’s best for the child.
“The child is in limbo, but in all probability the child is placed in temporary care, sheltered from the elements, with good food and toys to play with,” he said.
For right now, little Jane Doe is in protective custody.
“Given the fact that this child first came into public awareness when she was abandoned on the streets of South Sacramento, I’d say she’s in pretty good shape,” said McGinnis.
No other family members have come forward.
We questioned the police department about why this is taking so long and were told they’re “not rushing this investigation” and that the child is safe in protective custody.
Child and Protective Services released this statement about the case:
“Due to confidentiality requirements, we cannot speak about specific child and family circumstances. An important goal of CPS is to work with families and the community to prevent children from coming into the care of CPS. However in situations where an investigation shows a child cannot safely remain with parents, the child may be placed into protective custody. The filing of a petition by CPS with the Juvenile Court to seek protection of the child would start judicial proceedings to determine next steps to ensure the safety of the child.”