A 4-year-old girl was found outside in 3-degree weather, unconscious and turning blue, after her mother left her and two other young children alone early Friday morning to smoke marijuana, police in Connecticut said.
Police started investigating when Rebecca Santiago-Reyes, 23, of New London, called 911 at 3:38 a.m. to report her 4-year-old daughter was missing, police said.
She was calm and unemotional as she told them she put her 4-year-old daughter and her two other children -- a 5-year-old girl, and a 2-year-old boy -- in bed between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m., police said.
She then went to watch TV and checked on the children at 2 a.m., but saw they were sleeping soundly, she said, according to the police report.
At 3 a.m., she again checked on the children and noticed her 4-year-old daughter was missing, so she searched the apartment, knowing the little girl likes to hide. When she couldn't find her daughter, Santiago-Reyes said she banged on the next-door neighbor's door.
Responding officers noted that the home was messy, with dirty laundry on the floor throughout, and it was mixed with toys and food. They also said there was a lingering smell of marijuana and rotting garbage.
The children were sleeping on mattresses placed on the floor with no sheets or blankets, just piles of what appeared to be dirty laundry, the police report says, so officers began moving piles to see if they could locate the girl. She was not there.
They also searched under furniture and in closets as well as cabinets, but the girl was nowhere to be found in the home.
The children's father is prison, police said, and no other adults were home, so police spoke with Santiago-Reyes' 5-year-old daughter, who had been the same bed as the 4-year-old.
She had gotten up to "look for mommy and could not find her," then added "mommy was not home."
Police then started searching the area.
When an officer who remained in the home again asked Santiago-Reyes if she'd been home the entire morning, she said she'd gone to the store at 2:30 a.m. to pick up some items, leaving the children unattended, but later admitted she lied.
Police found the little girl hunched between a storm door and the door of one of the apartments at 163 Huntington Street. She was unconscious, turning blue, and was wearing only a yellow T-shirt, jeans boots, police said.
The officer who found her rushed the girl to an ambulance, which brought her to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.
The little girl's body temperature had dropped to 90 degrees, her fingers were red and swollen and she had what hospital staff called "frost nips" on her arms, back and legs, police said.
The written statement Santiago-Reyes provided police another account of what happened before the child disappeared and the police report notes she had lied about going to a store.
Santiago-Reyes told officers she left the apartment around 2:30 a.m. to "smoke some weed," then drove to Willetts Avenue to pick up someone else to smoke more marijuana, the police report says.
She returned home an hour later, went to check on her children, saw her 4-year-old was not in bed, then searched for her until she called police.
Santiago-Reyes has been charged with three counts risk of injury to a minor, first-degree reckless endangerment and false statement. She will remain in prison unless she pays $250,000 bond and is due back in court on March 13.
Santiago-Reyes' father took custody of the other two children and the children's grandmother went to the hospital and took custody of the 4-year-old girl, police said.