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Police seek identity of abandoned girl

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SOUTH SALT LAKE — A red-haired toddler found in an empty South Salt Lake apartment remained in state foster care Tuesday, after police were unable to locate her family.

The toddler, a girl believed to be between 16 and 18 months old, was found about 6 p.m. Monday by a 9-year-old girl who heard the child crying, South Salt Lake Police Sgt. Darin Sweeten said.

The girl was sitting on some stairs in a cleared-out apartment "C" at 3433 S. 200 East. None of the apartment complex residents said they recognized the child, Sweeten said.

Police officers kept the girl in their custody until midnight, thinking someone would call and report her missing, but as of Tuesday morning, no such call had come, Sweeten said.

"It's looking like she's been abandoned," he said. "There are so many ways or avenues if you no longer can take care of a child or don't want one. But to just leave (her) is just tragic. And it's not only tragic, it's criminal."

The girl, who is now in the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services, was found wearing a pink-and-white "Barney" T-shirt; pink, green and yellow striped shorts; and brown sandals. She has red hair, brown eyes and was grubby, with dirt and sand on her face and under her fingernails, Sweeten said. She also appeared to have suffered a sunburn and possibly a heat rash.

Police have no idea where she came from or how long she had been alone. Barely able to walk, she is too small to have opened the apartment door on her own, which is why police believe someone put her inside and left her, he said.

Two women who had recently moved out of the apartment were initially thought to be connected to the child, but after talking to them, police decided they were not involved.

Anyone with information about the girl should contact the South Salt Lake detective division, 483-6088.