HARTFORD -- The mother of a 4-year-old girl found wandering alone in Hartford Tuesday has been arrested admitted she left the girl home alone to exchange sexual favors for money, according to her arrest warrant.
On Tuesday, at 10:08 a.m., Hartford Police responded to a Collins Street home on reports that a 4-year-old girl had been found wandering alone.
Melanie Garcia, who lives nearby on Collins Street, spotted the little girl, Shafyalya Nicks, while driving to work.
Garcia said she pulled over and gently approached the girl. "I'm like, 'Baby, are you okay? Where's your mommy?'" said Garcia. "She just shrugs, shrugs. She says, 'My mom, my mom is crazy. My mommy doesn't like me.'"
Garcia then called police and stayed with the girl until officers arrived.
Police took the child to her apartment, but no one was home. They said the apartment was recently rented by Shi'day Nicks, who they found later Tuesday evening.
According to Nicks’ arrest warrant, Shafyalya told police that a person, whose name is redacted in the warrant, “doesn’t like me” and “always wants to party.”
Shi’Day Nicks returned a call from Hartford police sometime after 7 p.m. on Tuesday and agreed to meet for an interview, her warrant states. During that interview, she admitted that she left Shafyalya at home to meet a man named Richard and provide him with sexual favors in exchange for $230.
Police arrested Nicks, 22, and charged her with risk of injury to a minor, reckless endangerment, and leaving a child under 12 years old unsupervised.
She appeared in court Wednesday and is being held on $50,000 bond.
"Right now, as a grandfather and a father, it's very disturbing,” Anthony Nicks, Shi’Day’s father, said outside of court.
Garcia said she had difficulty sleeping Tuesday night because she was so disturbed by what happened and was concerned for the child's well-being. She said she has been in tough circumstances as a single mom, but never left her 9-year-old son alone.
"I was homeless with my son," said Garcia. "I went from home to home to home, friend's house to friend's house. But I kept my child with me."
Garcia said she reached out to Shi'day on Facebook to offer her help, but has not heard back.