He was a little guy in clean clothes and a dry diaper, but to Minneapolis police, he was an 18-month-old mystery.
The little boy had a dry diaper and was nicely dressed when he was found walking down the sidewalk. He was clean and appeared well cared for. But he wasn't able to tell anybody where he came from, and for almost two days, nobody claimed him.
On Friday afternoon, Minneapolis police said they had been in contact with the boy's mother, who said a "miscommunication" between family members resulted in the 18-month-old being left on his own while she was out of town.
Bobbi McGee, who lives in the 700 block of Thomas Avenue N., was changing out of her work clothes, just before 4 p.m. Wednesday when "something just said look out the window." There, across the street, she spied "this little person." There was nobody else in sight.
McGee knew something wasn't right. She crossed the street, picked up the boy and brought him home. She called 911. A dispatcher told her she didn't know how long it would take for police to get there.
"I said, 'This is a baby! We'll be out on my steps waiting for [the officers],'" McGee said. She and a friend, Chloe Sudduth, sat on her front steps while the little boy sat in one lap, then the other. He was quiet and well behaved. Once or twice, he pointed toward the end of the block, but men and children who were gathered outside the house there never came by.
"We kept waiting and waiting, and nobody came," McGee said. "I think I called 911 back again and they said 'We don't know when they'll get there.'"
Forty-five minutes passed and McGee began to feel frustrated. She called 911 again, then 311, a city information line, and asked for child protection. "I told them we'd called police earlier, and the police haven't come," she said. "We're not going to let him go; you don't have to worry about that, but we want the police here. This is a baby, and he's lost. That was my thing: He's LOST! By himself, nobody's come looking for him, and this should be a priority!"
Ten minutes later, McGee said, she called 311 again. After getting no straight answers, she told the person on the phone that she was going to call a TV station and hung up. "Within a little bit, about four minutes, no more than five, they [officers] come right around the corner."
McGee grew up in the cozy bungalow off Olson Memorial Highway and returned there in the 1990s to take care of her mother. She has one son, now 41. Her main concern Wednesday, she said, was that in the hour she sat on her steps, nobody came looking for the boy.
It wouldn't have dawned on her not to get involved, McGee said. "I wasn't raised that way," she said. "No matter what happens, you help."
Officers took the boy to the Fourth Precinct headquarters, then to a shelter. He was expected to be reunited with his mother, but police and child protection will investigate, said spokesman Lt. Stephen McCarty. McCarty said he didn't know the boy's name.
Pat Pheifer • 612-673-7252