Distant family member helps police identify abandoned child

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

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MARIETTA, Ga. - Police tell Channel 2 Action News the parents of a 4-year-old Marietta girl, left her outside an Anderson County, South Carolina home and a distant relative was the key to identifying her.

Zoe Brown's mother, Tongela McBride, is currently in the Cobb County Jail, locked up without bond for allegedly dumping her daughter at a stranger's door more than 100 miles away. Her boyfriend is also behind bars in South Carolina.

Alonzo Brown, 31, was arraigned over the weekend in Anderson, S.C., where a judge granted investigators requests to deny bond.

"We consider a person who would do that a serious threat to the safety of community," said Marlene McClain with the Anderson County Sheriff's Office.

Brown and McBride, both of Marietta, are charged with unlawful neglect of a child for allegedly abandoning their 4-year-old daughter Zoe on the doorstep of an Anderson County home last Tuesday, leaving neighbors stunned.

"Total surprise. I mean, I wouldn't, that's beyond my comprehension," neighbor Lane Whitfield said.

It took sheriff's deputies five days to identify Zoe who had just a note on her diaper to call the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services.

"The good Lord was looking out for Zoe," said Investigator Chad McBride, no relation, with the Anderson County Sheriff's Office.

McBride said a tip from a distant relative, who saw Zoe's picture on TV, cracked the case.

And while McBride says Zoe has a long medical history, including open-heart surgery, he wouldn't talk about a motive.

"We want to maintain the integrity of this case so we can get justice for Zoe," McBride said.

Investigators arrested Brown in South Carolina. Cobb County police arrested Tongela McBride at a Marietta apartment complex. She's at the Cobb County Jail awaiting extradition.

Deputies said Zoe is safe and in state-monitored foster care.

Channel 2 Action News asked the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services if the agency has had any previous contact with Zoe or her family, but a spokesperson said the law only allows them to comment on cases involving a child's death.

A date for Tongela McBride's extradition hearing has not been set.



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