Family Says Woman Charged With Leaving Daughter in Grocery Store Didn't Do It Intentionally

Chiengkham Vilaysane allegedly left her daughter alone in a California store Sunday.

A woman's family is standing by her after police say she intentionally left her daughter at a grocery store.

On Sunday, surveillance footage allegedly captured Chiengkham Vilaysane, 31, leaving a Food 4 Less store in Riverside, Calif., without her 2-year-old daughter. She was arrested Tuesday.

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But on Thursday, the father of Vilaysane's oldest child told reporters that he doesn't believe she left the child intentionally, as police have said. He said he believes mental illness and drugs played a role.

"Me and the family don't feel she did this on purpose," Daniel Sierra told reporters. "It wasn't intentional. It's just when you've got a lot on your mind... you do something way out of character."

Their child, who is 8, lives with him. The 2-year-old girl is now in the care of Vilaysane's sister, Amanda Salcido.

"I hope she gets the help that she needs and for her to be better, a better person after all of this," Salcido told reporters through tears. "Her daughter will be in good hands. I will make sure of that."

Vilaysane was shopping with her daughter at the store just before 6 p.m. Sunday, and when the little girl wandered off alone, Vilaysane did not look for her, according to police.

When a stranger brought the girl to her, Vilaysane allegedly responded: "Oh, just leave her."

She eventually paid for her groceries and left the store without her daughter, police said. The child was taken in by Child Protective Services before being handed over to her aunt.

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On Tuesday afternoon, authorities tracked down Vilaysane at a bank and arrested her. She was charged with felony desertion of a child younger than 14 and misdemeanor child endangerment.

She appeared in court Thursday, but her arraignment was postponed until Monday and she did not enter a plea. She will now receive a mental health evaluation, the Press Enterprise reported.

She faces a maximum sentence of more than three years in prison, if convicted.

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