Exclusive: Teen 'Just Trying to Help' Lost Tot Arrested for Kidnapping

Cops arrest teen who said he was trying to help 3-year-old find mother.

ByABC News via logo
June 16, 2010, 12:34 PM

June 17, 2010 — -- The 14-year-old Florida boy arrested last week for allegedly kidnapping a 3-year-old girl after walking her out of a store said today he was only trying to help the lost toddler find her mother.

"I was just trying to help," said the soft-spoken Edwin, who was shopping with his own mother at the time of his arrest, in an exclusive interview today with "Good Morning America."

Surveillance video of the incident at a Burlington Coat Factory shows Edwin walking out of the store with the little girl. He later told police that he thought her mother left the store without her.

Shortly after that, the little girl's panicked mother headed outside, found her daughter with Edwin and returned to the store. Edwin then rejoined his mother and continues shopping -- until a few minutes later when police show up and put him in handcuffs.

While Edwin was outside, a store clerk called 911 and reported what appeared to be a possible abduction.

"She doesn't know the guy at all," the clerk said in the call. "She was at the cash register. Her child was right next to her. The guy was walking out of the store, called the child over to him. She went over to him and walked out of the store."

Both Edwin's mother and the surveillance video appear to contradict the clerk's story.

"He didn't call her over," Edwin's mother, Mildred Roman, said. "He noticed the child was left alone."

Roman said her son thought the girl may have been with a group of women that walked out of the store just moments before.

"He told me he was going to help the little girl find her mommy," Roman said.

The girl's mother was not among the group of women, but she eventually came outside and saw her daughter. The mother ran to Roman and her son and thanked them, Roman said.

Minutes later police showed up.

"Without pretty much saying much, they pulled him into the aisle and handcuffed him," Roman said.

The arrest report acknowledges the boy appears to have been trying to help the child, but concludes by saying there was "probable cause" for arrest under charges of "false imprisonment."