A baby sitter became impaired and lost a 3-year-old girl, leading to an overnight search that brought Ronesha Milner back to her family early Tuesday, police said.
The 46-year-old baby sitter is in police custody and expected to be charged Wednesday, Illinois State Police Capt. Jim Morrisey said.
East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore, Morrisey and a family member gave the following account of the little girl's odyssey: Ronesha's mother left her and her infant sister with a baby sitter Monday morning. When she returned for the children Monday night, she could find neither the baby sitter nor Ronesha.
Her baby daughter was with the baby sitter's boyfriend.
The mother contacted numerous family and friends trying to find her daughter, then called police at 1:13 a.m. Tuesday.
Katherine Johnson, a cousin, said, the mother and baby sitter both live in the Orr-Weathers Apartment Complex. She said the mother knew the baby sitter through a friend.
"I'm happy she is OK and the baby sitter was arrested," Johnson said. "I hope this serves as a lesson to others about who they leave their babies with. Even though you think you know that person, you don't really know them."
Johnson said the baby was left at the apartment complex with the baby sitter's boyfriend and the baby sitter took Ronesha with her.
Police determined the baby sitter and Ronesha were last seen at 4 p.m. Monday at a store near 10th Street and Broadway, near the apartment complex. Sometime after the baby sitter became impaired and lost her, Ronesha was left in the care of another individual.
Johnson said Ronesha was asleep for much of her ordeal.
Police got word out to the media with Ronesha's photo. The person with whom Ronesha spent the night saw the reports and contacted police. She met them with Ronesha at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday at the Foot Locker store at 25th and State streets.
Johnson said Ronesha was shook up when she realized she was with strangers and was crying when she met police at the store. The toddler was checked at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, but had not been harmed. She was released to family members and was very happy to be back with her baby sister, Johnson said.
The baby sitter was taken to the East St. Louis city jail, police said.
East St. Louis Police brought in the state police at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, and at one point 20 troopers were looking for the child. One person interviewed was arrested on an outstanding warrant.
Floore said was thankful for all the help bringing Ronesha home.
"The East St. Louis midnight patrol staff did an outstanding job in identifying all of the people involved, and they did so expeditiously. Because of their diligent work, we were able to bring this case to a close with positive results," he said. "I also want to thank the Illinois State Police for their assistance. Because of the extra manpower, we were able to cover a lot of ground quickly."
He also thanked the media for getting the word out.