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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Abandoned Child's Mother Tells Police to Take Care of Him

Aired May 27, 2003 - 19:19   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. This just in to CNN, some information on a little boy known as Mateo. You'll remember last week he was roaming the streets of Bakersfield, California, and that's where he was found. That is him there.
Kevin Sites is on the phone with new details. Kevin, what can you tell us?

KEVIN SITES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.

Bakersfield feel that they've got a little bit of a breakthrough in this case. They just released some information to us a few moments ago which they said on Friday detective Herman Caldas -- he's the lead detective in this case -- received a message on his voicemail.

That message apparently was from a Spanish-speaking woman who said that her son was the boy called Mateo that the media had been calling Mateo. The woman identified herself by the first name of Sochi. However, she said the child's name is not Mateo, that is in fact Jesus Perez Flores.

Now Sochi told Detective Caldas to find a good home and provide for the child. Police say that she provided some details as to why she couldn't provide for the child, but the police have not released those to us at this time.

Now we also asked detectives why they felt that this was a credible caller that she had identified the child. They said that she provided physical characteristics that couldn't have been described by someone that had just seen the child on television and also some information that Detective Caldas had found out from spending time with the child. So they do feel at this time that the caller is actually the mother of the child.

However, they have not been able to locate the mother. They believe she's from the Bakersfield area. They have been searching since Saturday. The call actually came in on Friday and the detective did not check his voicemail until Saturday. He went ahead and checked it out and now they have been searching for this woman.

They're asking anyone that has information on this woman or the child to call in to the Bakersfield Police Department. That is 661- 327-7111.

Now Anderson, there's some other details in this case. We asked the detectives if this is, indeed, a case of abandonment as would be indicated by this call from this woman, if she is indeed the mother of the child, whether they would prosecute her. And there is an indication that that could happen.

However, in California, there are laws that do protect parents who abandon their children. However, there are certain restrictions. A child has to be abandoned within an area that is relatively safe, for instance at a hospital or a police station, you know, perhaps at a church. It's not sure whether this child, Jesus Perez Flores, if that is indeed his name, if his mother or is indeed this woman that was the caller, will receive that type of protection. That's yet to be determined -- Anderson.

COOPER: Obviously, police want to talk to her and obviously, follow up a lot more closely on this. Kevin Sites, thank you very much short, reporting the story tonight from California.

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