Dawn Carmona and Amber Krauss say they let a stranger into their Kearns home because they wanted to help her.

"I was just trying to be a nice friend," said Carmona, who shares a house with best friend Krauss.But Wednesday, the woman they had helped disappeared with their two youngest children, ages 3 years and 6 months, leaving little clue about why or where she may have gone.

The children have since been found unharmed, but police are still looking for the 20-year-old woman, who was last seen baby-sitting Reynaldo Valdez, 3, and Osman "Ozzie" Fernando Krauss, 6 months, at their home, 5054 S. Pieper Blvd.

A woman fitting the baby sitter's description returned the children to Salt Lake police Thursday, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Jerry Townsend.

Officer Mike Riedel responded to the call from the Handy Pantry, 1252 W. 400 South, about 1:30 p.m. He met a woman who said her name was Heidi Smith who had two children with her, said Salt Lake police Lt. Phil Kirk.

The woman told Riedel that a friend asked her to watch the children on Saturday for a few hours. She said her friend never returned so she wondered what she should do with the children, Kirk said.

Riedel called the Division of Child and Family Services, who took the children to a shelter. Several hours later, Riedel was listening to KSL news on his way home when he heard about a kidnapping in the county.

"He said, `Hey, that sounds a lot like the kids I just took care of'," Kirk said. So Riedel called county detectives, who then went to the shelter and picked up the children. The baby and toddler were returned to their mothers later that afternoon.

The woman who gave Riedel the children hasn't been found yet, and investigators believe it is the baby sitter.

Police say the suspect has a history of schizophrenia and depression. She was also arrested as a juvenile for a similar case of custodial interference, Townsend said.

Carmona, Reynaldo's mother, said she met the suspect last year through some friends and allowed her to stay in her house for the first time in June.

"I didn't know anything about her," Carmona said. But "she didn't really have anywhere to live."

Carmona allowed the suspect to stay at her house, sleeping on the couch, free of rent in exchange for some baby-sitting. After about three weeks, she moved out, but she returned again early this month.

The women never learned much about the suspect, except that she had been raised in foster homes and had previously been in jail, Carmona said. She was homeless and was constantly "moving from one house to another, staying wherever she could."

She also had a lot of friends calling. But otherwise, the suspect seemed normal and the women never had any problems with her baby-sitting. In fact, Reynaldo had recently become attached to her, Carmona said.

"Reynaldo would always be after her," Carmona said. Also, "we noticed that in the past couple of days she started holding Ozzie a lot more often. She was always singing to him and trying to get him to sleep."

Townsend said Carmona's oldest child, 6, told police that the suspect had said she wanted to take the two children away with her.

Wednesday, she apparently did that.

About 3 p.m., the suspect was alone at the house baby-sitting Reynaldo and Ozzie when she called for a cab. But when the cab arrived, she and the children were gone.

A neighbor told police she saw the woman walking away from the house with a stroller and the children. The only other things she took were some of the kids' clothes and a bag of diapers.

The suspect had no money, no food and no transportation, Townsend said. But somehow she made it to Salt Lake City.

Townsend believes she may have decided to return the children after learning police were talking to acquaintances.

The children were placed in custody of the Division of Child and Family Services until their mothers arrived.

"I'm glad they're home and that they're safe," Carmona said Wednesday night. "I feel better but I'm still worn out. I'm just so tired of worrying."