‘They just left me.’: Gwinnett woman finds missing child from NY abandoned, sitting on curb

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities in two states, including Georgia, are investigating the apparent abuse and neglect of two children taken from foster care in New York and were then hidden in Norcross.

The little girl told the woman who found her sitting alone by a fire hydrant, “My family don’t want me. They just left me.”

Norcross police say the girl, 9, may have been repeatedly held in a bathroom and denied food. Her mother and stepfather have been arrested and jailed.

Lashanda Adesida told Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas that when she was leaving her apartment on Lia Hills Drive last week, she spotted the child sitting on the curb, wrapped in a sheet.

At first, Adesida thought the girl was a boy because her head was shaved. Adesida’s daughter Makayla Kelley approached the girl.

“She was like, ‘I have no home, my family left me,’” Kelley said.

Adesida took the girl in and called Norcross Police.

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“She said every time she tries to do good, it’s never enough. They just didn’t want her,” Adesida said.

Police told Thomas they soon realized the girl and her 6-year-old sister were missing out of Brooklyn, New York.

Authorities say they were taken from foster care by their mom, Nurielle Alexander, and stepfather, Kheperu Waterman.

A temporary restraining order had been filed in New York against them prior to the December taking of the children.

Investigators believe the couple fled to Georgia under assumed names to hide out and stayed at hotels and apartments around the Norcross area.

Police took the 9-year-old to a hospital where she has been treated for days for possible malnutrition.

“When she stood and started walking towards me, I could see it looked like she hadn’t been eating because you could see the bones in her neck and her wrists were real little,” Adesida said. “She was like ‘Yeah, I’m really hungry and I want some water. I’m thirsty.’”

Adesida said the girl told her that her parents kept putting her in cold water, and she lived in the bathroom.

She said there was “another child they treated better than her. They would feed her and when she asked why she couldn’t eat the way she ate, they would get mad at her and send her to the bathroom.”

Norcross police confirm they are investigating the allegations. New York authorities are also involved.

Jail records show Alexander and Waterman are being held with bond on charges of child cruelty and interference with child custody.

Adesida told Thomas that her daughters ask about the girl all the time, wondering if she is safe. Adesida does too, as she comes and goes from her Norcross apartment.

“We look at that spot every time we pass it. She looked like a little angel. It’s unbelievable someone could do that to a baby,” Adesida said as she began crying. “I can’t believe someone would do a baby like that.”

Authorities say the parents aren’t talking.

Police told Thomas it’s unclear if the girl was actually dropped off at this spot in a vehicle and left or if she got out of the family’s apartment and stopped there.