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Mom Who Was Missing Is Arrested

A Redlands woman who disappeared with her daughter July 15 is found in Anaheim and accused of deserting her 8-year-old son.

August 03, 2004|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A Redlands woman who disappeared with her daughter from Downtown Disney but left behind her 8-year-old son was arrested Monday for allegedly deserting the boy, police said.

Robyn Freeman, 38, was booked into Anaheim City Jail on suspicion of felony child endangerment after a three-hour interview with Anaheim police investigators. Bail has not been determined, said Sgt. Rick Martinez.

"Our detectives determined that she did abandon her son," Martinez said. "She didn't make any attempts to contact law enforcement to report him missing or to find out where he was at or to reunite with him."

Martinez said the woman did not seem to be mentally ill. He said he did not know where she had been staying since her son was found wandering around Downtown Disney about 8 p.m. on July 15 or why she hadn't searched for him. Her daughter will be handed over to Orange County Social Services, which will determine whether the girl will be placed with relatives.

A passerby spotted Freeman and her 11-year-old daughter, Shannon, as they walked along Harbor Boulevard near the Anaheim Convention Center about 11:45 a.m., police said. The passerby, who had seen the pair on a television broadcast five minutes earlier, called police from his cellphone. He followed the mother and her daughter until officers arrived.

"They were well-groomed, and their spirits were happy, and they were content," Martinez said.

Freeman said she was unaware that her son had been missing from her for nearly three weeks, authorities said.

"They were oblivious to the fact that anyone was searching for them," Martinez said.

"The officer had to show them an L.A. Times article, and they were surprised when they saw it."

Police had searched for Freeman since her son, Aaron, turned up alone. Police handed the boy over to Social Services, which placed him with relatives. He had told relatives that his mother left with people they had met at the park. Police could not confirm his statement.

A single mother, she worked sporadically and was living out of her 1980 Toyota Corolla. Family members said that she often called when she needed help but that they hadn't heard from her since she disappeared.

Her cousin Laura Wrede said she was relieved that Freeman and her daughter were safe.

"I can't believe this. I'm so glad they're OK," Wrede said. "But I'm sure she's in a lot of trouble. How could she not know that her son was missing?"

Wrede said Freeman was married twice.

She took Shannon with her when she divorced her first husband in Georgia and moved to California to live with her parents. While working as a clerk at a veterans hospital, , she met her second husband. The couple divorced after she had Aaron.

"She's always kept her kids with her under all her circumstances," Wrede said. She said Freeman did not receive child support or welfare. She often asked for money from her parents, who live in Washington state, Wrede said.

The cousin said Freeman had changed since she joined the World Changers Church International two years ago. The televised ministry is based in Georgia. Officials at the church could not be contacted Monday.

"Robyn is really gullible. She has always been a follower," Wrede said. " ... She has given money to the church at times when she didn't have anything for herself. She believes that if you give to them, God will give you tenfold."

Wrede said that family members had tried to push Freeman to find a job but that she had responded: "God is going to take care of me, because that's what I'm being taught."

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