The mother of a 9-year-old girl found wandering in Santa Ana on Monday turned herself in to police late Thursday and her three other children were subsequently placed with their sister at Orangewood, a county-operated home for abused or neglected children.
Police Sgt. Collie Provence said the children will stay at Orangewood while detectives decide whether to seek charges against their mother, whose name was not made public. She was later released.
Police said that the mother, who has been in the country "a short time" and works in Anaheim, contacted them after relatives told her that the missing daughter, identified only by her first two names, Norma Garcia, had been taken to the Police Department, Provence said. An aunt identified the girl Thursday after hearing news reports.
Provence said it is possible that the mother is an illegal alien and therefore was afraid to contact authorities.
A resident found Norma playing with other children Monday in a residential neighborhood in the 1100 block of South Garnsey Street. When the child couldn't give her home address, the resident called police.
Norma's mother lived near that area, but police say they are investigating possible neglect because relatives failed to contact police for three days.