A naked girl found in a retention pond in Jacksonville Beach Police Friday has been safely reunited with her parents.
Police were desperately searching for the parents of the girl since she was discovered in the 5am hour. An officer says the girl was pulled from a retention pond behind Home Depot along JTB and A1A around 6 a.m.
Jacksonville Beach police say the child was not communicating with officers clearly and that while she would repeat what they said to her, she would not answer questions on her own. They later confirmed to us that the girl did have some type of learning disability, although they would not elaborate.
Police say the girl's parents were staying at the Hampton Inn on Marsh Landing Parkway and woke up to find their daughter missing so they called police, who were able to match their description to the girl they had found. They arrived at the Jacksonville Beach police station to reunite with their daughter and walked out a short while later with the little girl safely in her father's arms, wrapped around his neck.
It appears the family was from out of town. The license plates on the car they drove were from Virginia.
Mark Finklin is the overnight manager of the Home Depot in Jacksonville Beach. He says one of his associates came into work and said he noticed a little girl running around the parking lot.
He walked toward the Staples and Bed Bath and Beyond and didn't see anything.
"And then I saw a head pop up out of the pond...then I just got closer and closer and sure enough, she was swimming naked in it."
Finklin says she got out of the pond, and he approached cautiously since he didn't want to scare her, and he knows there are alligators in the ponds.
"I started talking to her. She really wouldn't talk to me. She would just look at me. There was really something odd about her. And she'd go back in the pond...and this got to a point where I was just more scared of the alligators so I just got her out of the water."
Finklin says once police showed up, they showed the girl pictures of his daughter's Disney trip to try and get her to speak, but she wouldn't.
"There at night we always see drunks and hobos...but the last thing I'd expect is to see a five year-old running naked near a retention pond out there."