Doug Phillips and Tonya Alanez for The Sun Sentinel
The little girl was shy at first when police cars with flashing blue lights and uniformed officers showed up in the dark of night at the strip club parking lot where she was found wandering alone, Lauderhill police said.
She told the police she was 3. She had been crying, and she seemed confused. It was nearly 2 a.m., police said.
The toddler led officers to a parked black Toyota Corolla. It had toys and a car seat inside. A back window was cracked for ventilation.
Shy and reserved at first, the child quickly took to the police officers after they arrived early Tuesday at the Vegas Cabaret parking lot on busy University Drive, a block south of equally busy Commercial Boulevard.
“She warmed up to us extremely fast,” Lt. Michael Santiago, spokesman for Lauderhill police, said. “She latched onto us and wouldn’t let go.”
“She felt safe with us,” said Santiago, who went to the scene at 5428 N. University Dr.
It was a 911 caller who alerted police to the small child, crying and roaming the lot alone.
Nearly 40 minutes after police had gotten there, the girl’s 23-year-old mother appeared and identified herself, Santiago said.
Manouchika Daniels, of Miami, worked as an entertainer at the adult cabaret, police said, and had left her child alone in the parked car since about 11 p.m.
“This could have gone really, really wrong, really fast,” Santiago said.
It was 2 a.m. closing time at the busy club, patrons were everywhere and cars were streaming out of the lot, he said.
“That location gets pretty busy at that time of night,” Santiago said. “It’s always busy there, every night.”
Advertisements for the full-bar neighborhood strip joint are frequently spotted atop local taxis. The ads boast that “what happens at Vegas stays at Vegas.”
Daniels now faces a felony child neglect charge and her little girl is under the care of Child Protective Services at the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
As of Thursday evening, Daniels remained in a jail in Pompano Beach, held on $5,000 bond.
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