Missing Maryland Toddler Returned to Mother
DALLAS (AP) _ A 21-month-old boy who disappeared with a 14-year-old babysitter from his Maryland home about six weeks ago was reunited with his mother Sunday, confused but in otherwise good condition, authorities said.
Michael Fitzgibbon ″had just gotten roused up out of bed. I think he was confused about what was going on. But he recognized me,″ said his mother, Sharon Fitzgibbon, a real estate agent in Waldorf, Md.
The baby sitter, Tammy Lynn Giles of Waldorf, surrendered to Pittsburgh police Saturday and told officers she left the boy in the care of a couple at a motel in Dallas.
Police and child welfare officials said she apparently had taken the boy and hitchhiked to Pittsburgh and and Phoenix before arriving in Dallas around Aug. 10.
″This girl went door to door looking for somebody to babysit for this child,″ said investigator Cathy Harding of the Dallas police youth division.
Dallas police did not identify the couple, who told investigators Miss Giles had asked them to babysit the toddler several times. Police said they would not file charges against the couple.
Miss Giles faces extradition as a juvenile on Maryland charges of kidnapping and abduction. She was in custody Sunday in a juvenile detention center in Pittsburgh.
Bill Betzen, a child welfare supervisor, said Sunday the boy seemed fine when he was brought to the Dallas County Emergency Children’s Shelter Saturday.
″This is an unusual situation,″ Betzen said. ″Emotionally, I have no doubt this entire episode was very confusing to the child.″
Authorities said the little boy and the babysitter disappeared Aug. 4, after his mother left him with his 15-year-old sister, who then asked Miss Giles to watch the boy because she needed to go out.
Betzen said when the little boy was brought to the shelter, ″he was a normal, active 2-year-old running about the office.″
″We admit he was somewhat confused,″ Betzen said. ″He was calling some members of my staff ‘mama.’ ″
Mrs. Fitzgibbon went to Pittsburgh 10 days after the kidnapping and pleaded for any information about his whereabouts. She flew to Dallas on Saturday to claim her son.
Police speculated last month that Miss Giles may have taken the baby to the Pittsburgh area because her boyfriend, Mark Flick of Pittsburgh, was released last week from a state correctional institution.
Police said Miss Giles called police on the advice of her boyfriend and told them she did not know why she took the child.
″I called and talked to the people down there and was positive before I even left the house that it was him,″ Mrs. Fitzgibbon said in a telephone interview Sunday afternoon.
Mrs. Fitzgibbon said Miss Giles had a history of running away from home and had done so 22 times since January 1984. She said the entire time her son was missing she was afraid he had been harmed.
″Anyone would think that. I had nightmares, and I heard him screaming. It was terrible.″