Missing toddler found safe at nearby home

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- After nearly 10 hours of searching, a missing toddler who apparently wandered away from her home was found safe at a neighbor's house Tuesday morning.

According to Officer James Holmes of the Phoenix Police Department, the 2.5-year-old girl's family lives in the area of 45th Avenue and Beardsley Road. Holmes said Karma Diaz disappeared between 11:30 p.m. and midnight.

Holmes said Karma's mother and her boyfriend went out to run an errand, leaving the child with an elderly couple. It's not clear how the couple is related to the toddler. When the mother and boyfriend returned about 30 minutes later, they found an outside door to the home wide open, Karma's bedroom light was on and Karma was not in her bed.

The couple searched the house and then quickly called 911. Dozens of officers responded and spent hours searching for her, even bring in search dogs to try and track her.

"We're not sure how she got out," Holmes said.

According to Holmes, police never suspected foul play. They believe the little girl simply opened a side door, got out of the house and wandered off in her pajamas and bare feet.

Police spent the morning handing out fliers, with Karma's picture an a description of her.

A neighbor who has a grandson about the girl's age received a Reverse 911 call about the missing toddler early Tuesday morning and spent hours searching for Karma on her own, including in a nearby wash.

"When I got the call, I just got dressed and came out," the woman said. "As cold as it is, being out here all night, she's probably curled up somewhere, trying to be warm."

Another neighbor said she does not think Karma could have gone too far from home by herself.

"She could have gone in the wash, but I think she would have had a sense not to," Lexis Shimp said. "I think she might hiding around here somewhere. She got scared, maybe. I'm not 100 percent sure."

Dozens of other neighbors took part in the search for Karma.

The good news that Karma had been found safe and sound came shortly before 9 a.m., nearly 10 hours after she was reported missing. It's still not clear exactly where Karma was all night, but she was finally found at a house around the corner from her home.

As Holmes explained, it happened they officers had hoped it would.

"One of our good citizens, doing their normal routine, walks out of her house and there's the baby on her doorstep," Holmes said. "She looks like she's been out for awhile. ... We really think that she did wander off into the wash. ... She is alive. She's fine. ... We can all be happy that we've got baby Karma home and that she appears to be OK."

Holmes said the search dogs actually tracked Karma's scent through the wash to the home where she was found. The indication is that Karma did indeed spend the night in the wash.

At this point, the person who found Karma in front of her house is not talking to the media.

Paramedics checked over Karma, who was cuddled in the arms of her father, as a precaution.

Holmes, clearly thrilled with the happy ending, said officers will be talking to Karma's family and the citizen who found her as they wrap up their investigation and make sure that Karma is as fine as she appeared to be.