CPS granted temporary custody of abandoned baby; mother arrested

By Courtney Gilmore - Anchor/Reporter, Jill Courtney

HOUSTON - The mother who police say abandoned her 5-month-old daughter in a southeast Houston hotel room has been arrested.

Officials say Baby Lily was found at the Cullen Inn Motel by two women on Monday afternoon. Those women then dropped the baby off at Houston Fire Station No. 35.

One of those women, identified only as Alysha, said she and the other woman ran into the baby's mother, identified as 23-year-old Stephanie Estrada.

"We saw her Sunday night, and she asked if we could help her and take care of the baby," said Alysha.

They agreed to meet at the Cullen Inn.

"She grabbed debit cards, and just left. We agreed to watch her while she went to get money for diapers for the baby, but she never came back. She said she would call, but we never heard from her. The baby was by herself," said Alysha.

After she did not hear from Estrada, she decided to take the baby to Fire Station 35 early Monday evening. Fire officials say the baby was in good health when she dropped off.

Under the "Baby Moses Law" a child under 60 days old can be dropped off at a fire station without consequence, but Lily is five months old.

"Officers came to our home late Monday night and said that they had Lily, but they were looking for her mom," said Estrada's brother. "Her behavior was really strange a couple of days ago, and she left without telling us where she went. I started to look for her, and she called me around 3am on Tuesday. She told me over the phone that Lily was with the babysitter so I found out where she was and called police."

Authorities say Estrada was arrested on outstanding warrants at around 3 a.m. Tuesday in the parking lot off the 6300 block of Mykawa.

"I can't believe this happened," said Estrada's brother. "We love Lillian, she is our angel. Everyone in our family loves her. It really hurts that my sister didn't bring the baby to our family's house. We will do everything we can to get her back."

Estrada was later charged with abandonment/endangering a child and bond was set at $2,000. Her next court date is Wednesday morning.

During a custody hearing Tuesday afternoon, Children's Protective Services was granted temporary custody of Lily. The next hearing is set for April 22.

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