A mother-of-two was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of child endangerment after she left her daughters in the care of a new acquaintance and then reported them missing, police said.
San Francisco police located the toddlers – two-and-a-half-year-old Mekaylah Jones and 14-month-old Renyce Young — around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. The girls' caretaker Jacquita took them to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, where they are being evaluated, but police say they are in good health.
The toddlers' mother, Shanyce Jones has also been charged with possession of a controlled substance. The 26-year-old Oakland woman was booked into San Francisco County Jail on $106,000 bail, according to police.
"The mother was charged with child endangerment because of the circumstances she put the children in," Captain Greg McEachern said, stressing that she "left when they did not return."
The saga, which included police enlisting the public's help in finding the girls, began two days earlier.
Surveillance cameras at a Carl's Junior near Hallidie Plaza captured the children and their mother around 2:24 a.m. Monday, police said.
The trio reportedly went to a Burger King on the 1200 block of Market Street between 12 and 2 p.m. Monday where Jones met a woman named Jacquita, who she has known for about two months, police said.
Jones left her children in Jacquita’s care and arranged to meet her at the Carl’s Junior three hours later. However, she was late so Jacquita and Jones decided to meet on Tuesday instead. Police have not specified when they planned to meet.
According to police, Jones did not find Jacquita, Mekaylah or Renyce at the fast-food chain on Tuesday. It remains unclear when she went to find them, however, Jones claims that she searched for her children all day before going to the Tenderloin police station Tuesday night.
Jones gave "inconsistent statements" to the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, police said, and investigators found probable cause to take her into custody.
Police said an officer with the Mission station went to the Family and Children’s Services Otis Street office and inquired about Mekaylah and Renyce. Staff members there said that hospital staff had reported that a woman — identified as Jacquita — had gone to the hospital with the girls.
As of Wednesday evening, police had not divulged Jacquita's role in or the circumstances surrounding the toddlers' temporary disappearance.
An investigation that involves the Special Victims Unit and Child Protective Services is ongoing, police said.
People with information about the incident are asked to contact the Special Victims Unit at (415) 553-9225, leave an anonymous tip at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD.