PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Police say a 2 year-old Central Falls boy reportedly found wandering near I-95 in Pawtucket early Sunday morning had minor injuries and appeared tired and dirty.
According to a police report obtained by 12 News, Central Falls police originally received a call around 6:30 a.m. from Daniela Peraza Lemus stating she had located a child in Pawtucket while coming home from Providence in a rideshare.
Peraza Lemus, 22, of Central Falls, said the child was “laying on his back at the end of the off ramp,” not wearing socks or shoes, and had a pile of diapers on his chest, the report states. Police say the diapers were taken into evidence.
Peraza Lemus told police her driver did not want to wait for police to be called, so she took the boy and brought him to her apartment.
The call prompted police to search the area of Exit 26 to see if they could locate any evidence or people looking for their child, but came up empty, according to the report.
The child, whose name has not been disclosed, was taken to Hasbro Children’s Hospital for an evaluation. Police say he “showed very few emotions, did not say anything and appeared to be very tired.”
While police say a doctor examining the child said he appeared to be in good health, the report notes the child’s fingers and feet were dirty. The police report also states the child had a “small scratch located above his left eye and also appeared to have a small burn on his left leg, but they did not think it was a cigarette burn.”
A doctor also told responding officers the child appeared to have good hygiene, but she was unsure if his diaper was changed prior to the examination. The boy was later placed into the custody of the R.I. Department of Children Youth and Families.
A spokesperson for DCYF says in collaboration with the Pawtucket Police Department, the department initiated an investigation, and the parent of the two-year-old was not found at fault, and the department “has no caregiving concerns going forward.”
After an initial investigation, Pawtucket police said Peraza Lemus was arrested and charged with filing a false police report. Police later clarified that she was a “friend/acquaintance of mom that was supposed to have watched the child during this incident.”
Maj. Shawn Driscoll told 12 News before any report was filed, Lemus was with the mother of the child at an after-hours house party Saturday night. The mothers decided the two-year-old would go with Lemus to her apartment in Central Falls and have a sleepover with her children that night.
“When Ms. Lemus arrived at her house, at some point, she didn’t want to have the child with her anymore, and she panicked and she concocted this story that she found the child wandering on the side of the road in Pawtucket,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll says detectives went to the area where Lemus said she found the child and pulled surveillance video from local businesses, which revealed “nothing that Ms. Lemus said happened had actually happened.”
Police say their investigation confirmed the child was in Central Falls in the early hours of Sunday morning. It’s still not clear as why Lemus made the report with police in the first place.
“We have no idea,” Driscoll said. “She says she panicked and she made up the story. We don’t know why she did it.”
Peraza Lemus was released from Pawtucket police custody Monday morning on $5,000 personal recognizance, and is due back in court next February. She declined to speak to reporters when asked what happened.
Driscoll told 12 News he didn’t foresee police in Pawtucket filing additional charges, but was not sure if additional agencies planned to file charges.
Police in Central Falls are also investigating Lemus, since the report originated there. Detectives declined to provide further comments to 12 News about what potential charges Lemus may face, citing that the investigation is “open and active.”