A Joliet woman is facing child endangerment charges, police said, after she left her young son alone in the car while she shopped at the Orland Square Mall.
The child was discovered sleeping inside the Toyota Highlander with the engine running around around 12:27 p.m. Jan. 31.
Another mom called the Orland Park Police when she passed by the Toyota Highlander in the parking lot as she walked back to her own car pushing her child in a stroller.
After she put her things away and strapped her child in the child seat, she kept an eye on the Toyota, waiting for the owner to return.
As she drove past the car, she stopped directly behind it and saw a young child sleeping in a child carrier in the rear passenger seat and immediately called 911. By the time police arrived, the vehicle's owner, later identified as Erika F. Tellez, 20, had returned.
Police found the 1-year-old boy sleeping restrained in the child seat with a sippy cup. The outside temperature was 20 degrees.
Tellez told police she was at the mall with her boyfriend who needed to return a heavy item and needed help carrying it to the front doors, reports said.
According to the police, Tellez said she stayed at the entry doors and it couldn’t have been more than a couple of minutes that she was away from the baby.
She left the car running but locked with the key in the ignition so her son wouldn’t get cold, reports said.
When police continued to probe about the heavy item, Tellez allegedly changed her story and said her boyfriend was returning two computers to the Apple store.
Tellez claimed she was waiting with the second computer at the door until her boyfriend came back.
Police said she changed her story a third time, saying her boyfriend was an employee at the Apple Store.
Tellez waited while officers went to interview the boyfriend.
While waiting for the boyfriend, police said, Tellez admitted she was lying and instead went to another store to make a return. Officers went to the other store to speak to employees, but employees there said no one had made a return that day.
Asked about the smell of burnt cannabis inside her vehicle, Tellez told police a friend had smoke marijuana in her car a few days before, reports stated.
Tellez was arrested for child endangerment. She made a phone call to a relative to pick up her son.
At the police station, Tellez would not answer officers’ questions about what she was doing at the mall, reports said.
Later, she indicated she wanted to speak to the arresting officer. Tellez allegedly told the cop that had gone to an eyebrow kiosk to make a purchase, but the sales clerk was waiting on someone else.
Police said she did not know how long she had been inside the mall.
Tellez was charged with child endangerment. Her next court appearance is March 4.