ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Just after midnight Friday, firefighters on their way to a call spotted a 4-year-old girl wearing pajamas and walking alone alongside a North Valley road, according to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.
Twelve hours later, the picture of the girl, Unique, had been shared thousands of times online on social media and news broadcasts.
The girl’s aunt saw the story and called deputies to say the girl had been staying with a relative and wandered out of the house in the middle of the night after she had been put to bed, said Felicia Romero, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.
Romero said the girl’s mother and relatives have been interviewed and no arrests have been made. The completed investigation will be turned over to the District Attorney’s Office for review.
“The relative knew she wasn’t at the house, but thought she had been picked up by her mother,” Romero said. “After some communication back and forth, and as soon as the mom said, ‘I didn’t pick her up,’ they contacted law enforcement.”
Romero said Unique was found walking along Second Street north of Osuna near the fire station. She said the girl’s relative lives near by.
Romero said the firefighters who found the girl scooped her up, called the sheriff’s office and gave her a jacket to wear and a teddy bear to hold.
“Anyone would be concerned if they saw a 4-year-old girl walking alone at that time of night, or at any time,” Romero said.
The girl was not able to tell detectives what had happened or who her parents are, Romero said. Her name was initially reported as Monique.
“Given her age, it’s really hard for her to communicate much,” she said.
Unique did not appear to be neglected or abused, but the sheriff’s office turned her over to the Children, Youth and Families Department while they investigate the family, Romero said.
Henry Varela, a CYFD spokesman, said Unique has been placed with a foster parent in Albuquerque for the next couple of days.
While the sheriff’s office worked to piece together the story of how Unique ended up on the side of the road, the girl spent the morning happily coloring with deputies.
“We want to make sure she remains safe,” Romero said. “The Special Victim’s Unit is very passionate about this case and want to make sure they get her to a safe place. They’ve really formed a bond with her.”