A Rhode Island babysitter falsely told cops she found a toddler wandering on a highway – kicking off a frantic multi-state search for the little boy’s parents – in a ruse to get rid of the 2-year-old because she got tired of watching him after a night of partying at his mother’s house, officials said.
Daniela Peraza Lemus, 22, was arrested after concocting the elaborate plot in which she said she found the boy near a highway exit on Interstate-95 in Pawtucket while she was taking an Uber home.
The imagined Uber driver didn’t want to get involved, Lemus told cops, so she took the kid home to neighboring Central Falls and called police early Sunday morning.
‘You put a child in a situation where the child did nothing wrong, and then you put a community in fear that this child was just wandering around and almost went onto the highway,’ Central Falls Police Capt. Craig Viens told the Boston Globe.
‘We were trying to locate the parents of a child wandering near 95. Now you’re having the entire community in an uproar – did someone kidnap the kid and dump him? Did he almost wander onto the highway?’
Daniela Peraza Lemus, 22, was charged with misdemeanor filing of a false police report
The child was taken to Hasbro Children’s Hospital with dirty feet and a small scratch on his face. He couldn’t tell anyone who he was or where he came from, according to the newspaper.
Police alerted other law enforcement agencies across New England and released a photo of the child to local media, hoping his parents would see it.
Later that day, his mother turned up at the Pawtucket police station, where cops discovered that the ‘Good Samaritan’ was actually the boy’s babysitter and his mom’s friend.
Lemus told cops she agreed to take the kid to her house at around 1am after his mom got into an argument at her own house party.
The boy’s mom was expecting to pick up her son from Lemus’ apartment, when Lemus called to tell her the Pawtucket police had taken her son away ‘for no reason,’ Viens said.
She called the police and told the 2-year-old boy she was babysitting (above) was someone she had just found by a highway exit while she was Ubering home early Sunday morning
It turns out Lemus was just tired of watching him after a night of partying at his mom’s house, police say. She offered to take the toddler home because his mom was fighting with someone
Viens called the case ‘the saddest thing I’ve seen in 21 years.’
Central Falls police chief Anthony Roberson said Lemus couldn’t come up with any reason for making up the story.
Detectives determined the toddler was never at an exit near the highway and was probably home with Lemus until she called the police.
‘There were so many bad outcomes, and all you had to do was just pick up the phone and call the grandmother or mother, and say, “Hey come get him,”‘ Viens said.
‘She could have called police and said, “I can’t watch the kid any more.”’
Hasbro Children’s Hospital staff said the child had dirty feet and a small scratch
The state Department of Child Youth and Families is now investigating the incident.
‘She took the child from the home to get it out of a bad environment and didn’t want the mother to have DCYF involvement,’ Viens said. ‘And then, she made the thing 10 times worse.’
Lemus is facing a charge for filing a false police report, a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine and up to one year in jail, according to state law.
She was released without bail on Monday. Her next court hearing is on February 9, 2022.
‘I’m glad that he is safe and sound,’ chief Roberson said of the child on Tuesday.