GARLAND (CBS 11 NEWS) – Two-year-old Maliyah Vergenz is too busy being adorable—alternately hiding her face against her father’s shoulder or blowing kisses—to realize that she was ever in danger. But, the Garland toddler, now safe at home, was the subject of a North Texas Amber Alert on Tuesday, after she disappeared with the family’s live-in babysitter.
Patricia Garcia, 38, has been charged with kidnapping and is being held on a $50,000 bond.
“I called the babysitter to see if I could pick up my daughter,” says Maliyah’s father, Anthony Vergenz. “She pretty much said the only way I’d get my daughter back was to call Garland Police Department. That right there threw up a red flag.”
What Vergenz didn’t know at that time, was that earlier in the day, Garcia phoned police to accuse the couple of selling drugs.
“We’re still doing an investigation,” says Garland Police spokesperson, Ofc. Joe Harn. “We don’t know if the drugs were placed there. What is an interesting fact to us is that we get a call about drugs being there in the home, turn them over to us, and soon after that, she leaves with the baby and does not return.”
For several hours, investigators say they communicated with Garcia. They say she agreed to meet at local motel to return the child. When that appointed time came and passed, police issued an Amber Alert.
Garland investigators are crediting an eagle-eyed Terrell officer for spotting the suspect’s car and taking her into custody shortly after 11:00 Tuesday night. Maliyah was found safe in the hotel room and returned to her worried parents.
“Should I have done a background check or something on her? Yes. I should have,” says Vergenz. “But that’s a lesson learned. I just thought that going through church, knowing this person, and it’s been almost two years we’ve known her. “
Maliyah’s mom, Cassandra Williams, says she considered Garcia a trusted friend. She now feels both compassion and anger for the woman, who claimed to have recently miscarried.
“I feel real betrayed,” says Williams, her voice breaking. “I feel like I can’t trust anybody anymore.”