On Saturday, October 29, 2023, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office received a distressing call from a residence located on State Highway 19 South just outside of Athens. Concerned residents reported finding a young child left unattended in a stroller near the roadway in their driveway. Deputies and Emergency Medical Services promptly responded to the scene, engaging with the occupants of the residence.
The eight-month-old female child was examined by Emergency Medical Staff, who remained with the infant while Sheriff's Deputies initiated an investigation. Additional investigators were dispatched to the location to provide further assistance.
In a bid to identify the child and locate her family, the Henderson County Sheriff's Office took to social media, posting images and information about the found child. The community responded, and authorities received a call from 23-year-old Aliza Perez, who informed dispatch that she was responsible for leaving the child unattended.
Henderson County Crimes Against Children Investigator Dustin Smith and Henderson County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigator Jonathon Barrios joined the ongoing investigation. Investigator Smith immediately alerted Child Protective Services (CPS), who arrived at the scene to assess the situation.
During the course of their interviews, it was determined that Aliza Perez was the mother of the abandoned child and had left her on the side of the roadway in a stroller. CPS also conducted their own interviews and subsequently arranged for the child's placement in a safe environment.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with the Henderson County District Attorney’s Office, CPS, the Texas Rangers, and UT Emergency Medical Services to ensure a thorough investigation.
On October 29, 2023, Investigator Smith presented a probable cause affidavit to Henderson County 392nd Judicial District Judge Scott McKee, who issued an arrest warrant for Aliza Perez on charges of endangering or abandoning a child. Subsequently, Investigator Smith apprehended Perez, who is now in custody at the Henderson County Jail, pending further legal proceedings.