A child abducted by her mother from Rochester, New York, earlier this week was found in San Diego Friday night. Her mother does not have custody and had taken the girl without permission, investigators said.
The girl's mother, Rene Stong, 32, was arrested at a Motel 6 in San Diego's Little Italy community after a motel employee recognized her from a flier. Her daughter, Laylani Ortiz, 5, was found safe and in good health.
According to the Rochester Police Department (RPD), Stong picked up her daughter from school on Wednesday at around 4 p.m. NBC affiliate WHEC News 10 reported that Stong took the girl off the school bus, which she was not authorized to do, the girl's family told the news station.
When the girl didn’t come home from school, her family called the police. The RPD identified Stong as a possible suspect in the girl’s disappearance and thought she might return to her home in Rochester with the child.
That did not happen.
The girl’s family told WHEC News 10 that Stong took an Uber to Laylani’s school. After taking her off the bus Stong and the child took the Uber to the Greater Rochester International Airport (GRIA).
There, Stong bought plane tickets and left the state with Laylani, flying to Detroit and then San Diego Thursday morning. The RPD said an Amber Alert was not immediately issued, as investigators did not believe Laylani was at risk of injury or death.
RPD investigators believed the mother and child were in Southern California. Officials were working with law enforcement agencies in the region to find them, including the FBI, Rochester officials told NBC 7.
The family told WHEC News 10 that United States Customs and Border Protection was also aware of the abduction, in case Stong tried to cross the border from San Diego into Mexico. The family said the girl’s father was not involved, as he is currently serving time in a Florida jail.
NBC 7 reached out to local law enforcement agencies on Friday. The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) and San Diego County Sheriff's Department said they were not involved in the investigation. FBI San Diego officials confirmed the agency was assisting the RPD with the case.
SDPD officers responded to the motel in Little Italy Friday night and took Stong into custody. Stong was booked into the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility just before midnight Friday, where she'll await possible extradition back to New York.
Meanwhile, the RPD said the child is being cared for by San Diego’s Social Services.