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Child abandonment charges may be coming for mom who left son at store

Feb. 15, 2012

A 45-year-old Milwaukee woman may be facing charges of child abandonment after leaving her son at a Wauwatosa grocery store Sunday afternoon.

According to the Wauwatosa police report:

The 7-year-old boy was seen taking packs of meat from a shopping cart and stuffing them into a backpack at Outpost Natural Foods, 7000 W. State St., at 2:26 p.m. Sunday.

A manager noticed, and after taking the food back walked the boy up and down the aisles looking for his mother. She also paged the parent two times, but there was no response.

The boy said he had arrived at the store with his mother and her two friends, one of which stayed in the vehicle. They shopped for awhile before his mother said she had no money and walked away. He hadn't seen her since, but a video showed her leaving the store.

Staff recognized the boy and his mother as retail theft suspects from the week before. They had written down the vehicle license plate number at the time and had it on hand.

An officer spent about an hour at the store but there was no inquiry about a lost boy during that time. Back at the police station, a call came in from a man claiming to be the boy's father and asking how much it would cost to "bail out" the boy. When an officer asked for more information, the man got angry and hung up.

The boy was turned over that evening to a worker from the Bureau of Child Welfare, who said there had been previous child abuse allegations made against the mother.

Later, another man - the real father - called to say he would cooperate with bureau staff. He had court-ordered custody of his son but let the mother have him because she had "cleaned up." However, he claimed not to know where the mother was living or working.

The mother had not been located as of Tuesday morning, so the case was referred to the district attorney's sensitive crimes unit for possible charges of child abandonment.

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