WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — A child was picked up by a total stranger in West Memphis, and the two spent a whole day together across state lines, all while the girl’s mother had no clue where her child was. And no criminal charges were filed.
The trouble started Wednesday morning, when the 11-year-old girl did not attend her school. Police said she was found crying on the side of the road by a woman who didn’t know her.
But police said the woman had more than 20 years of nanny experience and good intentions.
“She saw that child and reverted back to that time in her life when she was a nanny,” West Memphis Police Chief Robert Langston said. “She saw a kid that she perceived to be in pain and wanted to make that kid feel better.”
The woman took the girl to a store to get candy and coloring books. The two even went to a salon to get the 11-year-old’s nails done before the woman brought her home safely later that night.
Picking up a child without the consent of her family might seem like kidnapping, but West Memphis Police said the girl went willingly and was unharmed, so authorities couldn’t find any charges to file.
“We looked into it last night, we talked to our prosecutor last night, and he couldn’t find anything matched it in Arkansas law,” Langston said.
The woman isn’t walking away completely free, even though in her mind she was helping someone in need.
“There was something going on that wasn’t right,” Langston said. “We brought some mental health officials in who did an analysis and interview with her, and she has been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.”
The family is thrilled to have their little girl back, but they told WREG they feel skeptical about the evaluation.
“I think she’s playing them,” mother Erica McMiller said. “I don’t think nothing’s wrong with that lady. Because she drove over here, she rolled around, and she’s been riding around all over the schools.”
The woman will be evaluated in a mental facility and not released until she is cleared by doctors.
The family involved still has concerns about this happening again.
“And what if that child can’t get away? What if it’s a 4 or 5-year-old that can’t work an iPhone or something like that,” McMiller said.
Langston said he wanted to remind children that they shouldn’t get into a car of someone they do not know.