Televised reports about a 3-year-old girl deserted on a cold, dark stretch of Arizona highway led authorities to identify her as the daughter of an Arlington businessman and his ex-wife, officials said.
Several neighbors and family friends contacted Arlington police after seeing a picture of the girl on a Fort Worth television newscast.The girl, Elizabeth "Buffy" Owuor, was left by the side of Interstate 40 about 40 miles west of Flagstaff, Ariz., Wednesday night. A California couple saw a car stop, the girl get out, and the car drive off.
Coconino County sheriff's Detective Trevan Woolbright said the couple took the barefoot, coatless girl to a truck stop and called authorities.
"She (Buffy) said Mommy screamed at her and told her to hit the streets. She stopped the car and told her to get out," Woolbright said.
The girl could tell Arizona authorities only that her name was "Buffy" and that she lived in Texas.
Arizona officals asked an Amarillo television station to air the description of the child, thinking the mother might have driven directly west on I-40 from the Texas Panhandle.
A Fort Worth station, KXAS-TV, picked up the report and aired it Thursday night. Arlington police received nine calls from friends of the child's family following the broadcast and through them tracked down the girl's father, George Owuor, 29.
Buffy was confused and frightened after the ordeal but "perked right up" after talking to her father by telephone Friday, Woolbright said.
"Sometimes you get lucky," he said.
Investigators had not determined what prompted the abandonment, the detective said.
Woolbright said the mother, Kim Owuor, apparently drove on to California after leaving the child in Arizona.
California authorities on Friday issued a warrant for the woman after the gray Ford she was driving reportedly sideswiped several cars near Los Angeles.