WATERVILLE — A half-clothed toddler found wandering alone early Friday on Water Street is safe because an alert police officer saw her and investigated.

The girl, dressed only from the waist up, was able to tell Officer Dennis Picard where she lived when he found her around 8:30 a.m. while on routine patrol, police Chief Joseph Massey said.

Sgt. Dan Goss went to the second-floor apartment in the city’s South End, found the door ajar and knocked on it, but got no response, Massey said.

Police called out but no one answered, so they went in. Initially, they could find no one there, but then discovered a man sleeping in a room with the door closed.

“He told the officers he got up earlier and fed the child and went back to bed and fell asleep,” Massey said. “It was hard to determine how long the child had been outside.”

He said the man, 36, apparently is the boyfriend of the girl’s mother, who was in the Belgrade area Friday, and she had asked him to watch the child.

No charges were filed in Friday’s incident.

“It’s not illegal to leave a child with an adult. The man was looking at us saying, ‘I didn’t mean to fall back asleep,”‘ Massey said.

Massey said the child appeared to be OK. He commended Picard for his work on the case. “It was just good alertness on his part.”

It was not the first time this year that police have found children wandering alone in the city.

Massey said when children are found unattended, police consider all the possibilities, including that a parent or guardian has had a medical problem. Also of concern is that someone other than a family member could take a child.

“It’s very concerning,” Massey said. “You don’t like to see it happen at all, but when it happens three, four, five times, you start to shake your head. Parents need to be vigilant. They need to know where their children are.”

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

[email protected]

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