Mom who abandoned toddler at grocery store taken into custody, cops say

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. —  A 31-year-old woman investigators believe to be the mother of a toddler who was abandoned at a grocery store was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, Riverside police said.

Chiengkham Vilaysane is shown in a photo released by Riverside police on March 14, 2017.

The suspect was identified midday Tuesday as Chiengkham Vilaysane. By early evening, she had been taken into custody at a bank in the south end of Riverside, according to Riverside Police Department spokesman Officer Ryan Railsback.

Police released her photo and name in an effort to find her several hours before she was detained. It’s not clear if she’s been arrested.

Railsback referred to the suspect as “Cindy.” She may have had past contact with county child protective services and police at her last known address in Riverside, Railsback said.

“We just want to talk to her to really start figuring out what’s going on, especially to make sure she’s OK as well,” he said.

The Riverside Police Department on Monday released video showing a woman apparently leaving a 2-year-old girl in a Food 4 Less, located at 4250 Van Buren Blvd., on Sunday evening. Investigators received tips about the woman’s identity following news media coverage of the child’s abandonment, Detective Paul Miranda said.

Riverside police released this photo a mother who allegedly abandoned her 2-year-old daughter at a Food 4 Less on Sunday, March 12, 2017.

Officers were called to the store when the child was found alone.

The little girl wandered off from her mother and a good Samaritan brought the child back to the woman, who responded, “Oh, just leave her,” according to a police news release.

The woman left after paying for her groceries, leaving the child at the store.

Watching the surveillance video, the child was able to identify the woman as her “mommy,” police said. The girl has been placed into county child protective services custody.

Since investigators have not had contact with Vilaysane, they don’t know if she was suffering from a “breakdown” when she allegedly abandoned the child, Railsback said before she was taken into custody. She could face allegations of felony child endangerment or abandonment.

Facebook posts show Vilaysane with a second child, but police do not know if she indeed has another child or if that child is a relative, Railsback said. It’s not known who the father of the abandoned child is, he added.

One Facebook page lists Vilaysane as working for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department; the department said she had never been employed there.