Nanny charged after leaving toddler in Encinitas store

A Carlsbad nanny who allegedly abandoned a toddler in her care at a strip mall, prompting an intensive 6 1/2-hour search for his parents, pleaded not guilty Dec. 1 to charges of felony child abuse and misdemeanor petty theft.

Desirae Harris, 42, is suspected of leaving the 2-year-old boy, identified by authorities only as Connor, at the shopping center in the 300 block of North El Camino Real in Encinitas around midday on Nov. 16, according to sheriff's officials.

Employees of a Michaels art-supply store found the tyke wandering by himself inside the business, Sgt. Joe Tomaiko said.

The workers made announcements over a public-address system in the store and searched surrounding parking lots and shops, to no avail. They then made a 911 call, and deputies took over the effort, canvassing the area and making loudspeaker announcements from a patrol helicopter.

The boy, who seemed to be in good health, was turned over to the care of child-welfare services at Polinsky Children's Center.

Investigators eventually tracked down his parents, and they were reunited about 6:30 p.m., the sergeant said.

Tomaiko declined to release further details about the circumstances that led to the tot's temporary abandonment in the commercial area near Encinitas Ranch Golf Course.

Harris will be back in court Jan. 8 for a readiness conference and a preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 29. She faces six years and six months in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Justine Santiago.

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