Just after 10:40 a.m. Friday at the Wal-Mart store near Cortana Mall, a 5-year-old boy was found wandering alone inside the establishment. Seven hours later, his mother returned to the store — and was arrested.
Chenetra Washington, 32, was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a count of child desertion after telling authorities she left her child at the store in hopes someone would find him and take care of him better than she could, according to the arrest report.
Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said the boy could speak but wouldn’t tell anyone his name or age, at least for the first few hours, as authorities searched the premises for his parent or guardian.
By 4:35 p.m., officials released a surveillance image of a woman who was seen walking into the store with the boy and walking out alone shortly after. The woman was believed to have been traveling in a four-door silver Buick vehicle, and was wearing a backpack, a black sweatshirt and lime-green pants, Hicks said.
Washington returned to the store around 5:45 p.m. and was detained for questioning, Hicks said.
The mother told deputies that she left the store with a friend, went to an apartment and had sex, according a Sheriff’s Office report. She said she had “no clue” why she returned to the store.
The state Department of Children and Family Services is involved in coordinating care for the boy, Hicks said.