No charges in what was thought to be baby trade offer
ORANGE PARK, Fla. – The state attorney's office and the Orange Park Police Department have determined there will be no charges filed against the man seen carrying a baby on surveillance video at a motel in what was thought to be an attempt to trade the boy for food.
Police said they determined that no credible attempt to sell or trade the 3-month-old for an item of value at the Rodeway Inn off Park Avenue near Interstate 295 occurred as required by Florida statutes. Investigators said it appears that the man, a relative of the infant, made an inappropriate statement to a motel patron, which was overheard by others.
Police said the witnesses mistook the man's statement to be a serious attempt to sell the baby for food.
The man then got lost at the motel and had difficulty locating the room occupied by the mother, Jaime Rathje, and her other children, police said. They said it appears he went to multiple rooms to try to find her.
After returning the baby to Rathje, the man tried to contact another male relative who was staying in another room, police said. They said the man has independent means and no need to trade the baby for food.
Rathje, 32, had been moving from motel to motel over the last two months to avoid an existing Department of Children and Families shelter order for her children, police said.
Rathje was arrested Monday night at a Hospitality Inn off 103rd Street and Interstate 295 on the Westside of Jacksonville on an unrelated misdemeanor charge -- an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court -- and booked into the Duval County jail. She was released Tuesday on bail.
The baby and a 4-year-old sibling were found safe in their mother's custody. They were temporarily placed with a foster parent.
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