When Jose Resendiz opened the door to the knocking of a tousle-haired blond 5-year-old early Tuesday morning, he thought it was a neighbor's child.
"I was thinking it was the girl from upstairs," Resendiz said. "She said, `Please, it's too cold.' So I said, `Come in.' "Resendiz, 1381 S. Fourth East, speaks little English and has no phone. He questioned the stranger, who said she had left her house to look for her dad, but she didn't know where she lived. So Resendiz tucked the little stranger into a warm bed and planned to check with neighbors in the morning.
Forty law enforcement officials from Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City combed Liberty Park neighborhoods for nearly five hours early Tuesday morning looking for Melissa Jones.
The child was recovered after Re-sendiz heard search dogs outside his house and asked what the commotion was about.
Melissa was reported missing about 3:30 a.m. by her father, Rollie Steven Jones.
Jones, 1409 S. Fourth East, said he had left Melissa with a roommate late Monday while he went to pick up his fiancee after work. When he came back, his daughter was gone. "I guess she went out looking for me," he said.
The apartment where Melissa sought shelter was just four houses away from her own house.
Salt Lake Police Capt. Aaron D. Kennard said Melissa was in good condition when she was found. He estimated she had wandered outside for about 30 minutes before she knocked on the door of Resendiz's apartment.
Kennard said Jones and the girl's mother share joint custody of Melissa.
The search effort was directed from a command post established at Liberty Park, about one mile from the Jones house.