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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview with Estella Olguin

Aired June 13, 2003 - 19:16   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And an incredible story out of Texas tonight to tell you about. Police in Sugerland near Houston are on the look out for a suspected shoplifter. They say she drove, and get this, she left her young daughter holding the bag literally.
Reporter Michelle Casas with affiliate KRIV fills us in.

MICHELLE CASAS, KRIV CORRESPONDENT: She's only 7 years old, a child called to do the dirty work of three females suspected of shoplifting at this Randalls grocery store in Sugarland.

A manager saw them walk in the store and recognized them as two females who have possibly shoplifted from the store before. So started watching them.

CASAS: Surveillance video shows a Hispanic female supposedly the child's cousin directing her to a basket of stolen goods. Moments later, you see the girl running out of the store with the basket and then the manager who was watching. He caught the child. But the getaway car, this red Chevrolet Corsica sped away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The child identified the mother as Maria Reyez (ph) and also identified her as being the driver of the car that fled the scene which makes it all that more shocking.

ESTELLA OLGUIN, CHILDREN'S PROTECTIVE SERV.: It is unusual not to have the relative who is willing to come forward and come get her.

CASAS: It has been four days. The abandoned little girl has been in custody of children's protective services. Family unwilling to come forward although they have contacted CPS about her.

OLGUIN: They haven't come to our office and presented themselves. Some of the information that they've given us like addresses have been false. So at this point, we're trying to find out who she is.

CASAS: And that is proving difficult. The girl gives two different names. She doesn't know what school she goes to or who her teacher was.

OLGUIN: She is very healthy 7-year-old girl. Very bright. So that's why it is surprising that she doesn't know a lot of information like even where she lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Unbelievable. That report from Michelle Casas of KRIV. And we should know, that because her age, the girl does not face any criminal charges in connection with the attempted shoplifting. Wanted to follow up on this story.

How could a mother do such a thing and what happens to this little abandoned girl?

Estella Olguin is the spokesperson from Child Protective Services. You heard from here earlier in the piece and she joins us now live.

Estella, thank you for being with us.

How is this little girl doing?

OLGUIN: She's actually adjusting pretty well. She's eating, she's able to sleep. She's actually doing well considering what happened to her all she's gone through.

COOPER: Does she talk about her mother?

Is she aware of the fact that she's basically at this point seems to have been abandoned?

OLGUIN: She hasn't asked for family or her parents, which is, you know, unusual. You would think that a child would be asking for her parents. What she has been asking is if she's in trouble.

COOPER: Is she being helpful in terms of -- I know in the peace there was in question about she wasn't able to identify her school, her teacher.

Do you think she knows those things and doesn't want to say or doesn't know them?

OLGUIN: Well, actually, even as late as this afternoon, the child has been able to give us more information. Even we learned some more information about a different possible name that she has. Of Elvia, Isabella Lopez, (ph). And who are trying to contact different schools in the area to see if they had her enrolled in those schools. So we're getting more information. We're also looking into more leads. We're currently talking to some family members that have come forward. So we're hoping that pretty soon we will be able to find this family and who this child belongs to.

COOPER: So her -- the name, the Reyez name, that may not be the right name at this point. You're not sure what her name is.

OLGUIN: Correct. We're also looking into the mother having several possible aliases. And we'll follow up with all of those. They all are different last names.

COOPER: You to get the sense the little girl has been asked to do this before, to ask to shoplift by family members? OLGUIN: Apparently that's what we're learning, even what Elvia is telling us is this is not first time. She was made to do this. She and another cousin. So it looks like, yes, she was being used as the person who would walk out with all the groceries.

COOPER: What will happen to her?

Say her mom shows up, or relative shows up, how do you -- what do you decide to do with her?

OLGUIN: First we want to talk to them. We want to learn what is happening and why this happened. And we also would want to know if whatever relative comes forward, if they would be a safe home for this child. We would want to learn more about any relative that is out there, including the mother. So at this time, there has been no decision made about whether or not she would return home. We first just want to talk to these relatives.

COOPER: Understood. Makes sense. Estella Olguin, appreciate you joining us. You have a tough job to do. I appreciate you telling us about what is going on in this case. Thank you very much.

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