UPDATED: 1/15/2013 – 3:44 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A young mother has been charged with child endangerment, after her 3-year-old son was found running by himself in the Englewood neighborhood on Monday night.
The boy, identified by family as Tabyus Jackson, was found alone on the sidewalk in the 7200 block of South Hermitage Avenue about 11:23 p.m. on Monday, about two blocks away from his home.
Someone saw the boy and called police, who then picked him up and handed him over to child welfare workers with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, police said.
“He was dressed warm, because it was cold at the time,” Bruce Holloway told CBS 2’s Susanna Song. “He was eating donuts. I have been trying to find out who he is, just like you.”
The mother arrived at the Englewood police station on Tuesday morning and spoke to detectives. Tuesday afternoon, 27-year-old Carla S. Conrad, of the 7100 block of South Wood Street, was charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the life/health of a child.
Police said Conrad gave conflicting stories about where her three year old son was – sleeping on the floor, or in bed – and about whether or not she’d checked on him, and when.
The boy had dressed himself in gym shoes, blue jeans, a hoodie, and a winter coat, and was found running down the sidewalk a couple blocks away from his house.
Police said the mother learned her son was missing when her father called her, because the boy’s picture had been broadcast on TV.
Amanda Martin was the one who found Tabyus running down the sidewalk. She said she couldn’t believe her eyes when she found the three-year-old out by himself while she was on her late-night walk to a corner store.
“I said ‘Come on, I’ll help you out,’” she said. “I said, ‘Hold my hand,’ and when I grabbed his hand, his hand felt like if you held an ice cube.”
The boy also told neighbors wasn’t ready to go back home.
“I said, ‘It’s okay honey,’ I said ‘You’re gonna go home,’ and he goes, ‘I don’t want to go home, I want to stay with the police,’” Martin said. “To me, that made me feel like something has got to be going wrong in that house.”
Conrad was scheduled to appear in court at the Domestic Violence Courthouse on Feb. 26.
WBBM’s Steve Miller talked to the boy’s grandmother, who said he was out because he wanted to find a school.
“He is very smart, and he’s only 3, but he wants to go to school,” Sybil Lindberg said.
She said the family recently moved to that area from the Roseland neighborhood, and they tried to enroll Tabyus in preschool, but there was no room for him. So he tried to find the school his older brother attends.
Lindberg said she’s confident Tabyus will be turned back over to the family.
“We’ll get the baby back. We just have to put some locks and stuff on the doors – high up,” she said.
And she said she hopes to find a preschool that has room for her grandson.
Most neighbors in the area said even they won’t walk alone in Englewood, especially at that time of night.
Nick Langfield said, “This is a very dangerous neighborhood. Anything could have happened to that boy.”
Neighbors said Tabyus insisted he was on his way to school when he was found, but couldn’t offer much information about where he lived.
“We seen him in the police car. He was happy, he was much, much warmer. They had bought him a toy and fed him,” Gina Johnson said.