The Bible class teacher stopped her lesson and ran outside Wednesday evening after she looked out the church window and saw a 2-year-old girl heading toward a busy street.
The woman grabbed the toddler and called 911 when she didn’t see anyone looking for the child near the church in the 4700 block of 111th Street Southwest in Lakewood.
Police later tracked down the girl’s father, and he’s been charged with second-degree criminal mistreatment.
Court records provide further details about what happened:
The teacher told police the toddler had a soiled diaper and slightly dirty feet, which made her think she hadn’t come from very far away.
Social workers took custody of the girl, and firefighters and police started looking for the parents.
They found a home nearby with an open back door, but a dog chased them out of the yard when they tried to knock. Later they were able to make it the house, and the girl’s 24-year-old father came to the door.
“... when asked if he was missing anything, he stated he was missing his daughter,” Pierce County deputy prosecutor Kara Sanchez wrote in a declaration for probable cause.
The man then started crying and asked if his daughter was OK. She was, the officers said, but they told him she’d been found outside the church.
The man said he had put the child in her cradle before he fell asleep about four hours earlier. He told police “he had slept for so long because he had used amphetamines and had been up for a day straight,” Sanchez wrote.
He woke not long before officers arrived and searched for the girl in the house, but did not call 911 when he couldn’t find her, charging papers show.
When the girl’s mother arrived home, she was distraught and told officers she would not have let the father watch the toddler had she’d known he was doing drugs when she was in his care.
Police booked the man into the Pierce County Jail.
He pleaded not guilty at arraignment Thursday in Superior Court, and Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered him jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail.