ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A Rochester five-year-old is back with her family.
Laylani "Lilly" Ortiz was greeted at the Rochester Airport by some of her family members, four days after she was abducted by her mother and taken to California.
Rochester Police say Renee Stong, who does not have custody of Ortiz, took the little girl on Wednesday.
Investigators say Ortiz was found safely when a motel clerk in San Diego called police after recognizing the girl's mother from a flier.
Ortiz's family says they couldn't be happier to see her walk through the gates in Rochester.
“It was so emotional, very emotional. I didn’t want to let go at all and she was so excited and so happy,” says Inez Torres, Lilly’s grandmother. “She says ‘mommy don’t leave me again,’ she thinks I left her. And she’s been holding my hand through the whole thing, she doesn’t want to let go at all.”
Stong is in San Diego police custody until she can be brought back to Rochester.
A family lawyer says Stong suffers from mental illness. She allegedly took Ortiz off of a school bus Wednesday on her way home from Exploration Elementary Charter School, despite only having visitation rights. Police say Stong immediately took the girl to the airport and flew to Southern California.
Lisa Clark, the head of the school Ortiz attends, says they're looking into how the little girl was allowed off the bus.
An emailed statement read, "The school followed all necessary steps and protocol and made sure the child was placed onto the proper bus with all other children assigned to that bus, as it is obligated to do. The school is trying to determine why the child was subsequently released after she had already been placed onto the bus."