Woman stole vehicle with 2-year-old inside, tried handing child to passersby: KCSO

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A woman stole a vehicle with a 2-year-old in the backseat Wednesday then tried handing the child to passersby, according to sheriff’s officials.

Melissa Ashley Peterson, 31, was arrested and the child returned unharmed to his mother, said a news release from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

There does not appear to be connection between Peterson and the victim, officials said.

Deputies were called to the area of Niles Street and Sterling Road at about 12:12 p.m. to a report of a kidnapping and learned a woman’s vehicle had been stolen with her child inside, according to the release.

At 12:30 p.m., deputies got a report of a woman trying to give a child to passersby in the area of Di Giorgio and South Fairfax roads. They found the stolen vehicle, the child and Peterson, who matched the kidnapper’s description, the release said.

Deputies arrested Peterson on suspicion of kidnapping, willful cruelty to a child and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent. She’s held on $132,500 bail and has a court hearing scheduled Friday.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 661-861-3110 or Secret Witness at 661-322-4040.

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