Fairbanks police pick up three abandoned children

Posted: Monday, April 10, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- State social workers took custody of three children in two separate incidents Friday after the children were apparently abandoned.

A 4-year-old boy was picked up by Fairbanks police Friday afternoon at a laundromat. A few hours later, police took charge of a 2-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy at the Fairbanks Rescue Mission. Their mother had failed to return to the mission, where the family was staying, before the doors were locked at 10 p.m.

The boy at the laundromat was brought inside by a woman who saw the child sitting beside a nearby street and crying, according to the manager.

The boy was dressed in just a T-shirt and jeans, she said. ''He was crying, he was scared. He said his name was Johnny,'' said Alina Pena.

He could not, however, tell them his mother's name, she said. ''All the little boy told us was his mom took off in a cab.''

Fairbanks Rescue Mission staff had a similarly heartbreaking tale. Executive director Wendell Otness said the two children were dropped off at the mission by day-care center workers when their mother didn't pick them up.

Otness said the mother recently started work at a fast food restaurant, and she had clocked out at 3 p.m. Friday.

''She was not in by 10 p.m. and made no contact (with mission staff),'' he said.

Otness said the mother didn't start looking for her children until Saturday. He said the woman, about 20, had been staying at the mission for about three weeks.

Fairbanks police had no further details on either incident and the Division of Family and Youth Services could no be reached for comment.

Most cases of abandonment, according to Lt. Dusty Johnson, do not result in criminal charges.

Cases of true abandonment are relatively uncommon, he said.

''Most of them ... the parents are going out drinking and they don't pay attention to the time or whatever, or they are being completely irresponsible and leaving the kids for hours,'' Johnson said. ''We get (those) on a regular basis ... more often than should be.''

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