Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Toddler Returned Baby Sitter Left Boy in Neighborhood Shed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Toddler Returned Baby Sitter Left Boy in Neighborhood Shed

Article excerpt

A baby boy was reunited with his mother in Mayport yesterday 16

hours after police said a 14-year-old runaway took off with the

toddler while baby-sitting and left him in a shed.

Police brought 19-month-old Malik Jones back to his mother,

Cavatina "Nicole" Jones, 22, about 3 p.m. as a crowd of family

and friends gathered outside her Old Mayport Road apartment

cheered his return.

"I'm so happy my baby's safe," Jones said crying tears of joy.

"I'm glad they found him. Thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus."

Only an hour before that reunion, Emma Howell's neighbors

knocked on the door of her Alley Road home and told her they had

seen someone coming out of the large shed in her backyard.

Howell sent her granddaughter, Christina Joyner, 14, to

investigate and Joyner spotted a motionless baby wrapped in a

blanket on the floor.

"I was scared because I didn't know if the baby was dead or

alive," Joyner said. "So, I started crying and screaming, and I

ran into the house and called police."

Police arrived and found the baby had been asleep. Soon after,

they arrested Vera Lakesha Dothard as she headed back to the

shed. The 14-year-old recently ran away from a Jacksonville

juvenile detention facility, authorities said. She was charged

with interference with custody, a third-degree felony.

Jones, of Pioneer Point Apartments in the 2700 block of Old

Mayport Road, had given her baby to Dothard about 10 p.m.

Thursday after the girl offered to baby-sit so Jones could

attend a Christmas party.

Jones and her friend Schyla Washington returned home about 2

a.m. yesterday and went to the apartment where Dothard said she

lived.

But as soon as Jones saw the apartment, it was apparent

something was wrong. The apartment, No. 604, had no lights, and

was littered with dog feces, used condoms and other trash.

A puppy that Dothard had been caring for Thursday was left

alone in the apartment, where police said Dothard occasionally

stayed, but there was no sign of her or the baby.

"She had a little puppy and she was carrying it around wrapped

up in a blanket like a baby," said Pricilla Gonzalez, the baby's

grandmother. …

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