According to a press release from Livingston county Sheriff Thomas Dougherty, a caller to the Sheriff’s 911 center reported a child found alone on Garden Street in the Town of Lima.
After an hour-long investigation, Sheriff Deputies apparently discovered that the little girl’s caretakers at the time were her mother, Helen Hotchkiss (28) of Avon, and her grandfather, Melvin Hotchkiss Jr. (53) of Avon.
The Sheriff’s Office reports that Deputies had to go door to door on Garden Street looking for the child’s guardians, since no one had reported her missing. Eventually, Deputy Matthew Moran came across Melvin Hotchkiss Jr., who was walking on Garden Street. Hotchkiss said he was the girl’s grandfather, but at first lied and said he was James Hotchkiss, not Melvin, and gave a false date of birth.
Hotchkiss later said that he tried to hide his identity because he believed there was a warrant for his arrest at the time. The Sheriff’s Office confirmed that there was no preexisting warrant for his arrest.
The girl’s mother, Helen Hotchkiss, was apparently also found on Garden Street, where she told Deputies she was camping nearby with her father and daughter, and that the girl had walked away from a tent after being put to bed. However, Hotchkiss never called 911 for help even after noticing that the child was missing.
Helen Hotchkiss was ultimately arrested for Endangering the Welfare of a Child and Melvin Hotchkiss Jr. was arrested for Criminal Impersonation in the 2nd degree.
Both were given appearance tickets for Lima Town Court. The little girl was later turned over to her father, who was not present at the time nor was he involved in the incident.
PHOTO CAPTION: Image courtesy of LCSO