SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – Mississippi officials say they have arrested a suspect after a young boy was abandoned at a Goodwill location earlier this week.
But a woman who claims to be the two-year-old’s mom says she didn’t abandon her son, sister station WREG reports.
The boy was dropped off at the Goodwill around 9:50 a.m. Monday. Surveillance video shows the boy arriving at the gas station next door in a red SUV with two men and a woman.
2-year-old boy abandoned at Mississippi Goodwill store with note, bag of clothes, police say
One of the men then walked him to the Goodwill, leaving him there with a bag of clothes and a note.
“Asked if can we take the baby in ‘cause the mother abandoned him,” a Goodwill employee said.
But Antoinette Smith said she never had any intention of giving up her son, whose name is Sergio. Smith said the woman seen in surveillance video is not her.
Speaking by 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 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,” Smith said.
Smith said the acquaintance then abandoned her at a Nashville store after she refused to work in prostitution for him.
“He was like, ‘You better get out there and sell some a**,’ and all that type of stuff. I told him, ‘I’m not doing nothing,’” Smith said.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the FBI arrested one person in connection with the case at a Cordova Kroger on Monday afternoon. Law enforcement agencies have not released 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, said none of the women she’s helped have ever felt they had to abandon a child, but there’s 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,” Cady said.
Buress said 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.
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