Distant Relative Helped Crack Case of Abandoned Child - WSPA.com

Judge Denies Bond For Mother Accused of Abandoning Child

Posted: Updated: April 4, 2013 05:57 PM EDT
Mother of abandoned child Tongela Denise McBride arrested. Mother of abandoned child Tongela Denise McBride arrested.
Father of abandoned child Alonzo Brown arrested. Father of abandoned child Alonzo Brown arrested.
The Anderson County Sheriff's Office has identified the abandoned child as a 4-year-old  child from Marietta, Georgia. The Anderson County Sheriff's Office has identified the abandoned child as a 4-year-old child from Marietta, Georgia.
ANDERSON COUNTY, S.C. -

Updated: April 10, 2013

A judge denied bond for the woman accused of abandoning her young child in the Upstate and Tongela mcBride revealed she is pregnant.

McBride is charged with unlawful neglect of a child or helpless person by legal custodian. She could face up to ten years in prison if convicted.

The woman - who was brought from Marietta, Georgia to Anderson County on Tuesday - says she was under the impression that the child was at her uncle's house.

"Could I see my child because I didn't do this and I do want my child back," said McBride in court. The judge said that would be up to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office. She added, "I wanted to know, could I have my child back."

McBride says she has other children in Georgia, but the judge denied her bond because he considered her to be a flight risk.

She is due back in court on May 17.

Reporting by Sara Lewis, Michael Trimboli

 

Updated: April 10, 2013

The mother accused of dropping off her daughter on an upstate porch is scheduled to face a judge on Wednesday.

Tongela McBride is scheduled to have a bond hearing, after being brought back to Anderson County Tuesday.


Updated: April 9, 2013
It was a distant relative that eventually helped investigators track down the Georgia couple accused of abandoning their 4-year-old child on the front steps of an Upstate home, an investigator on the case said Tuesday.

And in addition the same investigator said there's a strong likelihood one of the parents knew -- or at least had some knowledge -- of the people who were living in the Anderson County home where the child was dumped.

The extent of the relationship between the one of the suspects and the people who found the child isn't known, but the investigator said the people did not know -- and had never met -- the little girl before finding her on their doorstep last Tuesday night.

It began with the ring of a doorbell, and when the man inside opened his front door, there sat the child on the front step. Her diaper said "call DCAF," which investigators later said was a mistake by the parents who were trying to write "call DFAC," which stands for the department of children and families.

Still, it was close enough and a clue for investigators that the child, or the parents, were possibly from out-of-state since in South Carolina the DFAC equivalent is DSS, or the department of social services.

Over the weekend, investigators in Anderson County say they got a tip from a distant relative of one of the parents who said they recognized the child. Anderson County investigators worked with Cobb County, Georgia investigators to track down Tongela McBride, 37, and Alonzo Brown, 31, the child's parents.

Both were arrested this past weekend, and while Brown was brought back to Anderson County a couple of days ago, McBride wasn't extradited until Tuesday afternoon when ACSO investigators traveled to Cobb County to pick her up.

McBride ignored questions from the media as she was led in cuffs into the Anderson County LEC and then transported to the county's detention center. Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper did not provide any detail either on what may have motivated the couple to drop the child off.

"Well at this point in talking with my investigators, we still have some investigative work to do, and we're not wanting to release anything that might harm our case down the road," Skipper stated. "And obviously this little girl has the rest of her life to go through, and at some point, (she) might see this media package, and know what went on here. Is maybe in her benefit to not know."

7 On Your Side has learned that it is possible that one of the parents knew, or had knowledge of, the people who lived at the home where the child was dropped off. Although, investigators are certain that the people inside the home had never met the child before.

McBride's expected to face a judge Wednesday for a bond hearing. A judge has already denied bond for Brown.

The child remains in the custody of the S.C. Department of Social Services and has been placed with a foster family.

A DSS spokeswoman on Tuesday said no timeline can be given for what will happen next to the child, but she said it's the department's responsibility to make sure the child remains in a safe environment.

Updated: April 8, 2013

The mother of the child who was abandoned on an Upstate porch has waived extradition, authorities say.

Deputies with the Anderson County Sheriff's Office say Tongela Denise McBride will be brought back to the county Tuesday.  She was arrested over the weekend in Marietta, GA where she lives.

Investigators say McBride, along with Alonzo Brown, both face charges of Unlawful Neglect of a Child.

Brown was denied bond over the weekend.  His next court appearance is scheduled for May 3.

The 4-year-old girl is now in the custody of DSS.  

Updated: April 6, 2013

The search is over. Anderson County deputies have identified the child left on the front porch of a stranger's home late Tuesday night.

A tip came in Friday that helped investigators figure who and where the little girl was from.

Her parents are now in custody, and the child's father Alonzo Brown, 31, stood before a judge Saturday.

Brown was quiet during his bond hearing.

His wife, and mother of the little girl, 37-year-old Tongela Denise McBride was picked up in Marietta, GA where the couple lives.

Deputies say both face charges of Unlawful Neglect of a Child.

While McBride awaits extradition to Anderson County, Brown will remain behind bars.

A victim's advocate requested the judge deny him bond.

"Certainly, it is a serious case. This was a child who did have severe medical issues and was left on a stranger's doorstep with no medications, no instructions, no information; and we consider the person who did that to be a serious threat to the safety of our community," said Marlene McClain, director Victim Services for the Anderson County Sheriff's Office.

The case has made national headlines. It has even been shared via Facebook more than 2.5 million times.

"She has had an overwhelming amount of support from the community," said Chad McBride, PIO for the Anderson County Sheriff's Office.

While this kind of case is rare, deputies say it has taught the sheriff's office about the power of social media.

There are still questions that have yet to be answered, like a motive, but investigators won't reveal that information.

"We want to maintain the integrity of this case so we can get justice," McBride said.

According to McBride, revealing too much information could hurt the case.

Deputies believe the child's mother will have a bond hearing in the coming week.

Brown's next court appearance is scheduled for May 3.

The child will stay in the care of the S.C. Department of Social Services for now.

She is currently living with a foster family, and is adjusting well.

Updated: April 5, 2013

As deputies continue to search for the parents of a child that was left on the porch of an Anderson County home, they've released a new photo of her.

Deputies with the Anderson County Sheriff's Office say someone rang the doorbell of a home on Brook Forest Drive late Tuesday night. When the homeowner answered the door, he found a child sitting alone in a stroller.

The girl is described as being between a 2 to 3-year-old with braided hair and pierced ears.  She was dressed in a white shirt with yellow sleeves with the words "Auntie Loves Me" on the front.  The child also had on gray pants with a floral design, and a pink jacket and stocking cap with an image of Dora the Explorer.

Authorities tell 7 On Your Side they have received about a dozen good tips.  About half of those tips are coming in from out of state.

If you have any information that may help investigators, call Crime stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Updated: April 4, 2013

Investigators are still trying to gather information on an abandoned child.

Deputies with the Anderson County Sheriff's Office say someone rang the doorbell of a home on Brook Forest Drive late Tuesday night. When the homeowner answered the door, he found a child sitting alone in a stroller.

Investigators haven't yet figured out the child's name, exact age, where she came from and who left her.

Investigators have sent her picture to law enforcement agencies in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina in the hopes of someone recognizing her.

"She could be from the other side of the country. Hopefully, it is just our message hasn't reached out to the right person yet," said Anderson County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Chad McBride.

While child abandonment cases like this are extremely rare, McBride says they can also be very difficult to solve

Investigators had the child examined by doctors for a second time Thursday. The child who is believed to be around two to three-years-old has scars on her neck and chest that could be a result of open-heart surgery.

Investigators are working to find medical records that could lead them to information about the child and her parents.

As investigator look for clues, child safety advocates hope this case will bring awareness to parents that help is always available.

"The easiest way for parents to get that help is to do one of two things: they can call 2-1-1 which is United Way's help line in South Carolina. They also can call 1-800-4-A-CHILD, a national resource for parents that are stressed out," says Laurie Rovin, executive director of Pendleton Place.

Posted: April 3, 2013

A child was dropped off on the porch of an Anderson County home late Tuesday night.

Deputies with the Anderson County Sheriff's Office say someone rang the doorbell of the home on Brook Forest Drive around 11:30 p.m.  When the man inside opened the door, there was no one there except a child in a stroller.

Captain Garland Major tells 7 On Your Side there was a note attached, stating "Call DFAC Please."  The note was handwritten on a diaper.

"I've been in law enforcement in Anderson for 25 years and this is the first case I've ever had anything to do with where they just drop a child off," he explains.

The girl is described as being between a 2 to 3-year-old with braided hair and pierced ears.  She was dressed in a white shirt with yellow sleeves with the words "Auntie Loves Me" on the front.  The child also had on gray pants with a floral design, and a pink jacket and stocking cap with an image of Dora the Explorer.

She was taken into Emergency Protective Custody and taken to the hospital where she was found to be in good health.

A scar was noticed on her neck and chest consistent with heart surgery.

Investigators have contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as other state agencies in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina.

She is currently with a foster family.

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