SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (WREG) – A woman claiming to be the mother of the two-year-old abandoned at a Mississippi Goodwill Monday morning says she did not abandon her son. The boy was dropped off at the Goodwill around 9:50 a.m. Surveillance video shows the boy arriving at the gas station next door in a red SUV with two men and a woman. One of the men then walks him to the Goodwill.
“Asked if can we take the baby in ‘cause the mother abandoned him,” said a Goodwill employee who only wanted to be identified as David. But Antoinette Smith says she never had any intention of giving up her son, whose name is Sergio.
Speaking over the phone to Memphis activist Barbara Buress in a Facebook Live broadcast, she said she met up with a male acquaintance Sunday and went to Nashville. She said Sergio remained with the man’s sister in Memphis. But she said that her acquaintance later revealed that it wasn’t his sister, but his girlfriend that the child was with. “If I knew that I said I wouldn’t have left my baby like that. Ain’t no way I would have left my baby. That’s all I got with me,” said Smith.
Smith said the acquaintance then abandoned her at a Nashville store after she refused to work for him. “He was like, ‘You better get out there and sell some a-s-s’ and all that type of stuff. I told him, ‘I’m not doing nothing,’” Smith said.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office confirms the FBI arrested one person in connection with the case at a Cordova Kroger Monday afternoon. Law enforcement agencies aren’t releasing the person’s name. In Mississippi, it is legal to surrender infants for up to three days after birth but only to emergency service providers.
Lorine Cady, who runs the House of Grace woman’s shelter in Southaven, Mississippi, says that none of the women she’s helped have ever felt they had to abandon a child, but there is a lot of pressure on new moms who have fallen on hard times. “The new mothers face really difficult situations because you can’t sleep in a car with a baby. You can’t sleep on a park bench with a baby. It has to have shelter,” said Cady.
Buress says that Smith will be returning to the Memphis area after Buress arranged for her to be picked up in Nashville. Sergio remains in CPS custody.