Ontario toddler wandering at midnight prompts investigation

A 2-year-old girl wandering alone after midnight Monday led police to investigate the incident and arrest the girl's mother on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant, Ontario Police Chief Mark Alexander said.

The child, who could not provide helpful information about her name and address, was placed in a foster home,and shortly before 9:30 a.m. Ontario police sent her photo to media as part of an effort to locate her family. A few minutes later, the girl's father came to the police station to report her missing, and police canceled the media plea.

But by mid-afternoon, Chief Alexander sent out a news release announcing the arrest of 26 year-old Maria Perez, the child's mother, on an unrelated warrant for a theft charge. Further charges may be pending, Alexander said.

Perez was found at the family's apartment on Northwest 4th Avenue, and a second child, 1 year old, was taken into protective custody, he said. Court hearings are pending for extended protective custody of the children, according to the news release.

"It is not uncommon for children to be found wandering for various reasons, but this event is uncommon and very concerning due to the time of night, the cold temperatures outside and the extended length of time it took to discover the child missing," Alexander said. "Parents are reminded to inspect doors for security measures to assure young children cannot leave their homes undetected and unattended. Any type of locking device out of reach can be sufficient."