A R.I. babysitter said she found a boy near a highway. Police say she made it up to get out of watching him.

A police captain said the alleged situation was "the saddest thing I've seen in 21 years."

A Rhode Island woman is facing charges after she allegedly concocted a story she found a child — whom she was actually babysitting — alone on the side of a highway that sparked a police search for his parents.

Daniela Peraza Lemus, 22, told Central Falls police early Sunday morning she discovered the boy near a highway exit in Pawtucket as she was riding in an Uber, The Boston Globe reports.

The driver did not want to be involved, Lemus said, so she took the boy to her apartment in Central Falls and called police, she told them.

Staffers at Hasbro Children’s Hospital figured the child was about 2 years old and was healthy, despite his dirty feet and a small scratch on his face, according to the Globe. He was unable to say who he was or where he came from.


Police contacted other law enforcement officials throughout the region to try to find the boy’s family. The child was not reported missing.

Eventually, the boy’s mother arrived at the Pawtucket Police Department that afternoon. There, police learned Lemus was supposed to be watching the child.

Central Falls Captain Craig Viens told the Globe Lemus was at a party at the child’s mother’s house on Saturday night and offered to take him around 1 a.m. for a sleepover.

She apparently grew tired of watching him and falsified the story, he said.

The mother had expected to collect him from Lemus’ home when Lemus called her to say Pawtucket police took him “for no reason,” Viens told the newspaper.

Viens called the situation “the saddest thing I’ve seen in 21 years.”

“You put a child in a situation where the child did nothing wrong, and then you put a community in fear that this child was just wandering around and almost went onto the highway,” Viens said. “We were trying to locate the parents of a child wandering near 95. Now you’re having the entire community in an uproar — Did someone kidnap the kid and dump him? Did he almost wander onto the highway?


“There were so many bad outcomes, and all you had to do was just pick up the phone and call the grandmother or mother, and say, ‘Hey come get him,’” he said. “She could have called police and said, ‘I can’t watch the kid any more.”’

Lemus, now charged with filing a false police report, could not give investigators a reason why she allegedly concocted the tale, Central Falls Police Chief Anthony Roberson told the newspaper.

“I’m glad that he is safe and sound,” Roberson said of the boy.

While Lemus is facing charges from Pawtucket police, Central Falls police told the Globe they are also putting together a warrant and are continuing to probe the incident along with the Rhode Island Department of Child Youth and Families.

According to Viens, Lemus told investigators she wanted to have the boy at her apartment because his mother was involved in an argument on Saturday night.

“She took the child from the home to get it out of a bad environment and didn’t want the mother to have DCYF involvement,” he said. “And then, she made the thing 10 times worse.”

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