NEW YORK (AP) — Security video showed nothing amiss when Frankea Dabbs — wearing dark glasses, pushing a baby stroller and pulling a rolling suitcase — entered a busy Manhattan subway station Monday night.
But after riding uptown to another stop, police say Dabbs purposely left her most precious possession behind on the subway platform: her baby girl.
Dabbs, 20, who faces charges for petty crimes in North Carolina, was arrested near Central Park on Tuesday after someone recognized her from the video released by police.
She was arraigned Tuesday on charges of abandoning a child and endangering the welfare of a child and is being held without bail. No plea was entered. Her next court date is July 11.
At the arraignment, prosecutors said Dabbs was a flight risk and showed no remorse. A public defender argued on Dabbs’ behalf that Dabbs was never convicted of any crime.
In a preliminary interview with detectives, Dabbs described herself as a homeless widow from North Carolina who had arrived in New York on July 2, said Stephen Davis, spokesman for the New York Police Department.
“She felt she couldn’t take care of the baby and thought she was leaving her in a safe public space,” Davis said.
A passenger had seen the woman and child board the train at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue, police said. The passenger got off at Columbus Circle and noticed the unattended stroller on the platform and the mother inside the train. After the train pulled away, the passenger remained with the baby for about 20 minutes. When the mother did not return, she notified a subway worker who called police.
The baby, who is about 10 months old, was examined at Roosevelt Hospital, and doctors found no apparent signs of trauma, police said. She was placed in the care of the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.
Records show that Dabbs has a pending assault case and numerous prostitution-related arrests, all misdemeanors, in Raleigh, Charlotte and other locations in North Carolina. She had skipped a court date for one of the cases on July 1, according to the Wake CountyDistrict Attorney’s office.
A 2012 police report in Raleigh listed her as owner of a stolen 2002 Mercedes. Another named her as the victim of an assault that year.
In an interview with WRAL-TV in Raleigh, Frankie Dabbs called his daughter a good mother, saying he was “blown away” by the accusations. She recently left the state without telling anyone after her baby’s father’s death, he said.
“I think it’s because she had a tragic past. … She was holding all of that in,” he said.
Associated Press writers Michael Biesecker in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Rachelle Blidner in New York contributed to this report.