MIDVALE — A woman who police say was listening for last call at a bar instead of the calls of her child has been arrested.
Natalie Meza, 22, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of child abuse, physical endangerment of a child and reckless endangerment after detectives say she decided to go to the neighborhood bar after putting her 2-year-old son to bed — leaving her toddler home alone.
Just after midnight on Wednesday, police received a call from concerned residents about a young boy without any clothes wandering by himself near 7600 South and 600 West, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal. Officers found the boy near 650 W. Center Street.
It was not immediately known Friday how long the boy had been walking around before he was found.
After talking to residents, detectives were able to find the boy's home, Hoyal said. However, no one was there.
"A neighbor saw the 2-year-old child of Natalie crying in the street," according to a Salt Lake County Jail report. "The neighbor stated that she saw Natalie leave and go down the street to the bar."
Police were able to track down the boy's mother about 30 minutes later, two blocks away inside a local bar.
"I asked why she left and she stated that he was sleeping so he should have been fine," the officer who booked Meza into jail wrote.
The boy was placed in state protective custody.
Neighbors say it isn't the first time they've seen the boy wandering by himself.
"Sometimes when the mom goes out to the store, or takes out the garbage, we hear the little boy screaming and crying and sometimes he gets out, opens the door," said Gustavo Gonzalez.
In 2009, Meza pleaded guilty to misdemeanor shoplifting, according to Utah court records. After sentencing, she was listed at one time as living in the Salt Lake homeless shelter, according to court records, and at one point asked if she could complete her court ordered classes at Valley Mental Health.
Also in 2010, she pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, court records state.
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