A 27-year-old mother is facing criminal charges after leaving her infant with a man who police described as a “stranger” to her while she shopped at Walmart.
Manoucheka Fortin faces a charge of child neglect.
Boynton Beach Police were called Friday afternoon to the Walmart at 3200 Old Boynton Road to investigate a report of an abandoned child. The store’s customer service representative told police that a man named Pigge Berlus left an infant in her care. The man wrote down a phone number and handed it to her and told her she dropped a woman off at the store and had to leave to go to work. He left the infant with the representative, according to a probable-cause affidavit.
Police found that the infant’s mother, Fortin, met Berlus through Facebook. They had only met each other face-to-face two times before the Walmart trip and they usually meet when Fortin needs a ride somewhere. The two only knew each other by their online names: Fortin went by “Ketia” and Berlus by “Jonas.”
This was the first time Berlus met the woman’s infant, the affidavit says.
Berlus said he dropped Fortin off at the store around 1:55 p.m. and told her he had to be at work around 4 p.m. Fortin told him that she’d be quick, according to police. However, Berlus ended up arriving to work about an hour late as Fortin took longer than she said.
Fortin showed up about 20 minutes after the police arrived at the store.