Wandering toddler found safe on Westside

Published On: Jul 26 2013 07:42:43 AM EDT
Updated On: Jul 26 2013 07:42:36 PM EDT

VIDEO: Joseph Teague was asleep when the 2-year-old disappeared from his Westside home. Fortunately, neighbors found the little girl safe in the apartment complex.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A 2-year-old girl found wandering at the Lenox Court Apartments on the Westside before dawn Friday is back with her mother's boyfriend.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office searched for the the girl named Carly's parents after she was found. The girl's mother and mother's boyfriend live in the same building where she was found, but her mother was out of town.

"I didn't know what I was going to do if I didn't find her or not," said Joseph Teague, Carly's mother's boyfriend. "Got up, looked around, she was nowhere to be found. She wasn't crying like she normally is. The door was locked and everything because her grandfather had already left. I guess he didn't see her because the neighbors already had her in the house."

Police said the girl walked out of her mother's apartment, climbed down three flights of stairs and made her way into the parking lot.

Child wandering Lenox Court Neighbor Anthonette Hunter said she woke up about 4 a.m. to a girl crying and realized the child was in the street. She said she immediately went downstairs, picked her up and took her inside to take care of her.

"She told me who her daddy was," Hunter said. "In so many words, she told me what color her daddy was. She told me her daddy was my color."

Hunter said she and a friend immediately started knocking on doors trying to find the child's parents, but had no luck and called police. She said the mother's boyfriend did eventually come downstairs.

"She's only 2 years old," Hunter said. "I have godchildren of my own who I love to pieces. It just really hurts my heart that the first thing you say when you come downstairs is, 'What's going on?' You didn't even ask where your baby was."

The Department of Children and Families is now investigating.

"Keep a close eye on their children at all times," he said. "Make sure that they have locks that are childproof. That's very important. And if children do wander around, they're energetic, they're curious, make sure to put those locks higher up on the door so they can't reach them. You'll also want to get an alarm to put on the doors as well."

Teague said he's forever grateful to his neighbor for finding his girlfriend's daughter, and he said he's already had a talk with Carly.

"I told her that she knows she's not supposed to be going out there without mommy, daddy or poppy," Teague said. "Poppy is her grandfather, which is on her mom's side. She's like, 'OK.' She's 2. She somewhat understands but doesn't. All that is, I need to keep a better eye on her in the morning."

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