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Mom loses sight of 3-year-old at mall, finds him with another woman

Witness, surveillance from Avenues Mall stores show boy wandering alone

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 29-year-old woman called police about 1:15 p.m. Thursday when her 3-year-old son disappeared from the playground inside the Avenues Mall, according to a report from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Within minutes, witnesses pointed out the boy walking away in the middle of the mall with an unknown woman holding his hand. The mother grabbed her son's arm, yanking him back. She told the investigating officer the woman did not say anything or confront her, and just kept walking away.

According to the report, the boy disappeared while the mother was looking for his shoes. Witnesses told officers they saw the boy wandering alone, which was confirmed later by surveillance video from multiple stores.

One witness reported seeing the child walking with a black woman in her mid-20s wearing a green Army uniform and boots and a muscular black man in his early 20s wearing a gray shirt.

Police searched the inside and outside of the mall, but did not find the woman or man described as having been with the child.

Police said they had no evidence that a crime was committed but they would still like to talk to the couple who were with the child. A witness told News4Jax she believes the strangers were up to no good.

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Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.