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Crime briefs

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001

Relatives charged after boy's abduction

The 6-year-old boy who authorities say was abducted Tuesday by his grandmother and stepgrandfather is back in state custody and will be returned to his father.

The stepgrandfather, Miguel Ortiz, 58, and the boy's grandmother, Iris Santiago, 48, both of 265 Broad St. in Masaryktown, were arrested Thursday on charges of interfering with the custody of a child. According to reports, the grandparents had raised the boy, Nicholas Gonzalez, since he was a baby and did not want to give up custody after a judge ruled they must. The judge decided to give custody back to the boy's father, Johnny Gonzalez, after authorities began investigating the stepgrandfather for possibly neglecting the boy. No neglect charges have been filed.

Originally, the grandparents turned the boy back over to his father after the court ruling, but on Tuesday night they took him from the father's front yard and disappeared with him, said sheriff's spokesman Lt. Joe Paez.

On Thursday morning, the stepgrandfather decided to give the boy up and turned himself in, Paez said. Family members said the stepgrandfather does not think the boy's biological father is fit to raise him.

Police say woman left children home alone

A woman faces child neglect charges after authorities say she left her children home alone.

Ersherra Brown, 21, of 385 Union St., No. 30, in Brooksville was arrested Wednesday. According to Brooksville police, officers found two of Brown's children, ages 6 and 1, sleeping alone in her home. Soon after, relatives arrived to take care of the children.

Brown eventually came home and told officers she had been at a friend's home and was picking up food for her children. She was released from the Hernando County jail without having to post bail Thursday.

Man charged with having sex with girl

Police have arrested a man accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

Hugh Batten, 21, of 9299 Weatherly Road, northeast of Brooksville, was charged Wednesday with a lewd and lascivious act. Brooksville police say Batten had consensual sex on two occasions with the Brooksville girl in her home. He was released from the Hernando County jail Wednesday on $5,000 bail.

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