SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8/CNS) - A toddler reported missing from his family's home in Linda Vista Tuesday was found unharmed with a babysitter following an intensive hours-long search of the neighborhood just north of Mission Valley and police later arrested the boy's mother for allegedly falsely reporting her son was missing.
The exhaustive efforts to find a 3-year-old began in the late morning and continued until shortly before 3 p.m., when a person who apparently had been watching the boy in the 7500 block of Mesa College Drive reported that he was "safe and happy," San Diego police Lt. Brent Williams said.
San Diego Police confirmed Tuesday evening that the boy's mother, Maria Flores, had been arrested for filing a false police report - a misdemeanor.
The tot's mother originally made an emergency call about 10:15 a.m., reporting that her son had disappeared from their residence, according to police. Dozens of officers soon were scouring roadsides, yards and canyons around the family's apartment in the 2500 block of Ulric Street on foot, aboard patrol motorcycles and in a law enforcement aircraft. Search teams with scenting dogs also took part.
Mom of 3-year-old boy who was reported #missing was detained by @SanDiegoPD and questioned after dozens of officers, a drone, helicopter and dogs searched for the toddler. Family says Mom simply forgot kid was at daycare and don’t know why. Details on @CBS8 @News8 @thecwsandiego pic.twitter.com/JFTnjyl8vR— Heather HOPE (@HopeNEWS8) October 10, 2018
"(We) have the helicopter and about 30-plus officers, and more officers arriving in to continue the search," Lt. Christian Sharp told reporters at midday.
The brown-haired, roughly 35-pound boy, who was wearing blue "Cookie Monster" pajamas at the time of his disappearance, had no history of wandering away from home, Sharp said. "So this is highly unusual, and that's why we're taking this extremely seriously," he said.
"Upon further investigation it was learned Maria Flores had provided police with false information about her son's whereabouts," according to police Lt. Eric Hays.
The babysitter who apparently had been with the boy during the entire missing-child scare told police his mother had dropped him off this morning to be watched, according to Williams. It remained a mystery how the mother might have come to believe the toddler had gone missing.
"So we're still trying to clarify those stories," Williams said late this afternoon.
It was unclear why the woman allegedly falsely reported her son missing. The toddler was placed in protective custody, police said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to reflect that the boy's mother was arrested, a previous version incorrectly stated that she had only been detained. Additionally, per News 8 policy, now that the child has been found, we are no longer showing the minor's image and have removed the minor's name throughout the story.