A 14-year-old girl who was arrested last week after Fitchburg police said she stole a car in December left a 7-month-old baby alone outside for 15 minutes in freezing weather because she only wanted the car, according to a search warrant filed Wednesday.
The girl, who was arrested on Feb. 21 for the Dec. 13 incident, was charged in juvenile court with driving a vehicle without consent and second-degree reckless endangerment, which would both be felonies for an adult. She remains in the Dane County Juvenile Reception Center.
According to the search warrant, which Fitchburg police obtained to get samples of the girl’s DNA, police were sent about 4:55 p.m. on Dec. 13 to Reach Dane’s Head Start program at 2096 Red Arrow Trail for a reported stolen car. The car had been left outside Head Start with the motor running and the car owner’s 7-month-old daughter in a car seat.
An officer who responded to the call quickly spotted the car parked on the street near Head Start, and as she was going through the parking lot toward the west side of the building, she saw a child car seat “rocking back and forth in the wind” next to an exit door on the west side of the building, the search warrant states.
The temperature was about 20 degrees, and police believe the child had been alone outside for about 15 minutes, the search warrant states. Police have said that the child was not harmed.
The search warrant says:
As Fitchburg police followed up, several juveniles told investigators to speak to two girls in particular about the incident. Three people all said that one of those girls had told them that she took the car with the baby in it and was “freaking out” after she did it.
That girl’s friend told police that she and the girl were walking down the street and noticed the car parked with its engine running. The girl told her friend, “If I see a car, I’m gonna go and get it,” the friend told police. The girl got into the car and drove it away, her friend said, not knowing immediately that there was a baby in it. But when the friend saw the baby, she told the girl that she didn’t want to be any part of the theft.
The girl’s friend told police that she told the girl to take the car back to the parking lot.
The friend said the girl had pulled over and opened a back door to the car and showed her the baby in the back seat. When the friend said the girl needed to return the car and the baby, the girl told her, “No, I want this car.” The friend told the girl that she was going home and told the girl that she needed to figure out what she wanted to do.
The friend told police the girl began to “wrap the baby up,” and seeing that she intended to remove the baby from the car, the friend left.
Later, when the girl came to the friend’s apartment, the girl was upset and said it was “pretty bogus” for her friend to have left. When the friend asked what the girl had done with the baby, the girl said she had left the baby at Head Start. The friend went outside and noticed then that there were police officers in the area.
When police interviewed the girl on Feb. 5, she admitted to having been in several stolen cars recently, both as a driver and passenger, including an incident in the town of Oconomowoc when she led police on a chase at speeds over 100 mph.At first, she told police she only knew about the incident involving the baby from Facebook and from people talking about it. But she got angry and said that friends had told police that she did it, and she was going to “beat the (expletive) out of them” when she got out.