NJ Mother Arrested After Child Found Wandering Street Alone

The mother's 11-month-old was also found alone in an apartment, authorities say

By Pei-Sze Cheng
|  Friday, Jul 9, 2010  |  Updated 7:57 PM EDT
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NJ Mother Arrested After Child Found Wandering Street Alone

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A mother is under arrest and her three children in the custody of the Department of Youth and Family Services after police found her 4-year-old son wandering a busy street in Irvington, New Jersey by himself at five o’clock in the morning on Friday.

According to Irvington Police, officers in a patrol car, who were on their way to a call, saw the boy at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Stuyvesant Street where he was flagging down cars.

An officer got out and approached the boy and asked him, “Why are you here?”  The boy responded, “My mom is gone.”

“At that point he grabbed the officer's hand and directed him to the apartment which was about a hundred yards away from where he was found,” said Detective Lieutenant Tracey Bowers

According to police they door was closed but unlocked.  When they went into the apartment it was clearly in disarray.  Inside a bedroom, they found an 11-month-old baby girl sleeping but no adults were anywhere to be found.  Officers left a note on the apartment door, letting the mother know that her children were with the Irvington Police and that she should come to the stationhouse to pick them up. 

Around 8 A.M., police say the mother, 33-year-old Mirlene Melendez arrived at the Irvington Police Department with her 8 year old son in tow.

“Last night, she came to my door around 10 o’clock and said she needed someone to watch her son because she had to work,” said neighbor Elaine Carter. “But I didn’t know the other ones were upstairs until today.  I would have taken care of them, I love her kids.”

Police say Melendez was extremely remorseful and crying when she arrived at police headquarters.  She told detectives that it was her first day on a new job and the single mother was desperate for a sitter but could not find one.  Still, police do not know why she did not leave the smaller children with the neighbor who was already looking after her 8-year-old.

Melendez is facing two counts of child endangerment. 
 

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