New details emerge after 3-year-old found alone near Albuquerque zoo


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – KRQE News 13 learned more about a little girl found wandering the streets of Albuquerque alone Monday and how she ended up there.

The 3-year-old only lives about a block away from where she was found. The neighbor who found her said she was in her pajamas with no shoes and no jacket. She was standing at the corner of Eighth Street and Stover when Debbie Nieto found her just after 3 p.m.

“It felt like one of my own,” Nieto said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh! If something like that were to happen to one of my grandkids, I’d want somebody to be there for them.'”

According to Nieto, a school bus stopped to help block traffic. The driver of the school bus then started to honk in order to get neighbors’ attention. Nieto heard the commotion from inside and ran outside to get her.

She said she wasn’t crying and didn’t seem too shaken up, just confused. She took the 3-year-old girl inside and fed her while the two waited for police.

The Albuquerque Police Department sent out pictures of the girl Monday afternoon asking for help finding out who she was and who she belonged to. After her picture was shown on the news, police said someone from the girl’s school called to identify her.

Police located the girl’s home just about a block over.

According to APD, the girl’s mom was pulling into the driveway as police got there. She told police she left her daughter with the 3-year-old’s uncle who was asleep at the time. She said she left to go pick up food and to visit her boyfriend.

A second brother told police when he got home, he found the front door wide open and their brother asleep. It’s not clear why no one called Albuquerque police to notify them the 3-year-old was missing.

Police think the girl was wandering the neighborhood for at least three hours. Nieto said she’s just happy she was running late to work.

“I’m just so glad that I was able to save the little girl’s life,” Nieto said. “I don’t know what would have happened to her.”

Police contacted the Children, Youth and Families Department. They placed the 3-year-old and her 5-year-old sister on a 48-hour hold while police continue to investigate. Police are still determining whether the parents of the little girl will be charged.

The mother could be charged with child abuse or endangerment. An online court search shows the mother does not have a record.

Albuquerque police have released lapel video of the incident. Mobile users watch it here »

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