A 17-month-old California girl is in the custody of Child Protective Services in Kentucky today after being reported missing more than two months ago.
Alouette Day-Moreno-Baltierra of Los Angeles was found Thursday at the University of Kentucky after two police officers received a phone call about a suspicious woman pushing a stroller on the university's parking lot.
"This is an example of where the responding officers followed a gut feeling that something just wasn't right with the situation," said University of Kentucky Police Chief Joe Monroe in a news release on Friday. "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."
University police officers Jennifer Ockerman and Emily Smith watched as 62-year-old Maria Baltierra-Dejesus pushed a baby stroller in a school parking lot in below-freezing temperatures. The baby had no shoes, gloves or head covering, police said.
When the officers approached Baltierra-Dejesus, who claimed to be the child's grandmother, she was uncooperative, police said.
After further investigation, university officers were able to locate the child's birth certificate, which indicated the toddler was born in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department said the child was reported missing on Oct. 16 from the 700 block of West Olympic Boulevard near the business district of Los Angeles.
"The child's mother, Dominique Baltierra, indicated [on Oct. 16] she did not know the whereabouts of her child and mother. The following day, she wanted to cancel the missing children's report, citing the child and grandmother had been located," said Norma Eisenman, public information officer for the LAPD. "When LAPD asked Baltierra to produce the child, the mother refused and was evasive."
LAPD added that the Department of Children and Family Services simultaneously placed a warrant in its system for both the grandmother and child.
"University police arrested Baltierra-Dejesus on the warrant and the child was then placed into protective services," said Eisenman.
On Friday, the LAPD confirmed Baltierra-Dejesus was the grandmother to the 17-month-old baby.
At the time of her arrest, evidence of wire transfer receipts from Baltierra-Dejesus' family members were found in the woman's possession.
"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," said Monroe. "We've received word [that] on one occasion she's tried to leave the country with the baby, possibly a second time."
Monroe said Baltierra-Dejesus tried to flee to France or Holland.
"She received passports issued while she was in California, which dated a week before the child went missing in October," said Monroe.
University police have charged Baltierra-Dejesus with endangering the welfare of a minor and custodial interference. Further charges will be made from the state of California.
As of today, Baltierra-Dejesus had not requested an attorney, Monroe said.
Baltierra-Dejesus is currently being treated at a university health care facility. Once she's released, university police will transfer her to Fayette County Detention Center in Lexington, Ky., where she'll await extradition from California.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Monroe.