FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A little girl whose mother was killed in North Carolina was found safe in Virginia on Tuesday, but authorities were still looking for her father, who they suspect in the shooting.
Newport News Master Police Officer Holly McPherson said the 1-year-old child was found in a shopping center in the morning by a food delivery driver wearing only a purple T-shirt and a dirty diaper. That driver then took the child, Juliana Reyes, into a Food Lion because it was the only store open at the time and called authorities.
McPherson said police searched nearby stores and hotels for the girl’s family and got in touch with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office once news reports that a child had been kidnapped surfaced.
Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said the girl was dropped off by her father, 23-year-old Alexander Zelaya.
Police plan to charge Zelaya with first-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Marianna Reyes, the little girl’s mother. Her body was found early Tuesday in front of her Fayetteville home. She had been shot multiple times.
Investigators say Zelaya fled the scene with the little girl in tow after stealing a neighbor’s car at gunpoint.
Tanna says police in Virginia are helping with the investigation. Newport News police said Zelaya may be driving a burgundy Toyota.
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