How did a young girl end up alone in Cathedral City? Here's what we found out

Timeline of events led police back to girl's dad

WATCH Exclusive interview with woman who found child in Cathedral City


We have learned new information about a 4-year-old girl who was reported to be wandering alone in Cathedral City on Saturday. She wasn't identified until late Sunday.

Cathedral City police say a strained relationship between the child's mother and father -- identified as Felix Martinez Diaz -- led to the girl being gone for so long.

According to investigators, the girl's mother handed the 4-year-old over to Diaz on Saturday in the mid-afternoon.

Police say about an hour later, Diaz dropped her off at a residence on Sky Blue Water Trail where he assumed the mother was living. 

"She didn't disclose where she was staying at the time." Cathedral City Police Commander Julio Luna said, "He assumed she was staying there and left the child there."

The problem is, the mother was not there.

We found the apartment where the girl was left. 

A woman who lives there, Gloria Acuna, says she was in the shower when the child arrived. Her roommate's 8-year-old son answered the door, inviting Diaz and the girl inside. However, Diaz left after the girl entered the apartment.

Neighbors told Acuna Diaz took off running. 

Diaz was not there when Acuna found the young girl. "I opened the door to the bathroom and the little girl was standing there.. in my home," she told KESQ and CBS Local 2 reporter Katie Widner.



Acuna thought there must be some mistake. She says she never saw the man her roommate described "I got the little girl and I walked down to the street and I looked both ways and I thought maybe he was in his truck, but there was no truck. And I thought, "No! They did not just drop off a little girl here!"

Police picked girl up at the apartment around 3:30 p.m.

"I want to go ask him, why me?" Acuna questioned. "Did you ever know me in the past? Do you know me? Why here? Out of so many apartments, why here?"

The girl was in police custody for several hours before Child Protective Services (CPS) picked her up.

A full day passed with no information on who the child was or who her parents could be. A full day with no missing person report or concern for a lost child. 

Police released an image of the child late Sunday afternoon. 

A family friend recognized the girl when he watched KESQ News Channel 3 on Sunday night. "They announced that she was lost." Albert Pimental said. "I felt a cramp in my stomach because I've known her since she was born and she would be around the neighborhood with her brothers. "

The child's mother also called police. She had thought the girl was still with her father. The mother and daughter have since been reunited, but Child Protective Services is investigating.

On Sunday night around 11 p.m., Diaz went to the Cathedral City Police Department  and was interviewed, then was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment. 

READ: Father arrested after child found in Cathedral City 

He was booked into the Riverside County Jail in Indio and according to court records, was free on bail on Monday. 

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