Mom of toddler found alone in building turns self in

March 25, 2014 (CHICAGO)

The 1-year-old girl was found about 11:30 p.m. Friday in the vestibule of an Auburn Gresham apartment building in the 8200 block of South Justine Street, according to a community alert from Chicago police.

She was taken in good condition to Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Center in Evergreen Park and was later released into the custody of the state's Department of Child and Family Services, police said at the time.

The mother turned herself in to police Monday and was being questioned by detectives, police said. Detectives had been looking for the mother since Saturday afternoon, after the girl was identified, police said at the time. It was not immediately known how long the girl had been alone in the vestibule before she was found.

It was only when family and friends saw the baby's picture on the news that realized what had happened, and that is when they contacted police, and how investigators identified the child.

On Saturday night, those same friends and family said they were relieved that the baby is doing OK but confused as to why her mother did what she did.

The baby's godmother says they were all together Friday night, but when the mother came back shortly after midnight she was alone.

"We end up seeing her and I tried to blow the horn to get her. She end up running away from us like she did something bad," Tasha Hassel said.

The 14-month-old, say police, was abandoned in the hallway of an apartment building. She was found at around 11:30 p.m. by area resident Thomas Freeman, when an unidentified woman alerted him of the child's location.

"I looked and thought maybe she was saying maybe somebody left the baby by the gate, but when I turned back she kept walking, she never stopped," Freeman said. "A baby, are you sure? She said, 'Yeah, in the hallway,' and kept walking."

The baby was found wrapped in a blanket with a bag of diapers and a sippy cup next to her. Distraught and referring to her as "her baby" several times, Hassel says the toddler's mother left her in her care shortly after birth and only came back into the picture a few months ago. They both still lived with her. On Saturday, she spent hours at the police station hoping to get the child back in her care. She also appealed to the missing mother to come forward.

"Just turn yourself in. You know Tashay did not deserve that. Go do what you got to do and get some help because you know you need help," Hassel said.

The baby's godmother said that the building where the child was abandoned was a previous address of theirs, a place where the mother still has several acquaintances.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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