Zoe Brown was placed in a stroller and left on the front porch of a home in Anderson County, S.C., about 130 miles northeast of Marietta, last Tuesday about 11 p.m.
Her mother, Tongela Denise McBride, and father, Alonzo Christopher Brown, both were arrested on charges of felony unlawful neglect of a child Saturday. If found guilty, they could face a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Brown, 31, was arrested in South Carolina, and McBride, 37, was arrested at an apartment complex off Cobb Parkway in Kennesaw.
Chad McBride (no relation to Tongela McBride), a spokesman for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, said investigators with his department are picking up McBride from the Cobb County Jail Tuesday and taking her back to South Carolina.
Brown was denied bond Saturday by an Anderson County judge.
Chad McBride said the parents both are from Marietta and divorced in 2010 but, as of a month ago, shared the same address off Delk Road.
In the meantime, police are trying to determine which parent, if not both, dropped the child off at the home.
“Obviously both of them were aware of it, and we feel like they are responsible,” Chad McBride said. “We don’t believe they couldn’t afford her, but they just didn’t want her.”
The Georgia Department of Family and Children Services was contacted to see if the family was ever under investigation, but a spokesperson said state law prohibits them from releasing information on specific cases, unless there has been a death.
“The child was left on the front porch, buckled into a stroller,” Chad McBride said. “The door bell was rung at a random house, and when the folks came to the door, they didn’t see anybody but the child.”
Police canvassed the area but nobody was found and no one in the neighborhood recognized the child, who was referred to as “Little Jane Doe” while authorities tried to identify her.
Outpouring from the nation
Shortly after Zoe Brown was turned over to police, she was checked out by doctors and said to be healthy, despite officers believing the child was only 2 or 3 years old.
“She was in 24-month-old clothing, and those were loose on her,” Chad McBride said. “She was just real little.”
The child also only said a few words to police or officials from the Department of Social Services, which is the equivalent of Georgia’s Department of Family and Children Services.
In an attempt to identify the child, Chad McBride said authorities posted messages on the department’s Facebook page, and he contacted national media outlets.
Within two days, they had more than 3 million people view the child’s photo on Facebook, and his department received multiple phone calls from people saying they wanted to adopt Zoe Brown.
“There was an overwhelming amount of compassion for this little girl,” he said. “But we don’t do that, DSS does that.”
A news tip came in Friday from someone who eventually said they recognized the child and knew the whereabouts of her parents.
DSS will determine whether the child will be turned over to a family member or placed in foster care.