Father abandons daughter at Utah college campus so he could take drugs

By Anneta Konstantinides

A Utah father was arrested after he was caught on surveillance video abandoning his five-year-old daughter on a college campus in near-freezing temperatures.

Adrian Justin Sanchez, 41, is facing a felony charge of child abuse by abandonment after leaving daughter Acelynn outside with just a few blankets.

Authorities said he took Acelynn to the Ogden Weber Applied Technology College around 5am and then walked away. Temperatures were around 39 degrees, Daily Mail reports.

Acelynn was found by a security guard at 7.30am and reunited with her mother Gena Weaver.

"She told me she didn't think anybody was ever going to find her and that she was never going to see me again," Weaver, 36, told Inside Edition.

Sanchez, who has visitation rights, had called Weaver on October 8 and said he wanted Acelynn to spend the night at the house he shares with his mother in Ogden.

But that night he allegedly wanted to bring his little girl to a nearby house where he planned to do drugs.

When Sanchez's mother refused to let him go, he 'tore up' her room, Weaver said.

"When she woke up that morning, she noticed he and Acelynn were gone."

Adrian Justin Sanchez, 41, was caught on camera leaving his daughter alone at a college campus in Ogden, Utah on October 8. Photo / Fox 13
Adrian Justin Sanchez, 41, was caught on camera leaving his daughter alone at a college campus in Ogden, Utah on October 8. Photo / Fox 13

Acelynn told her mother that Sanchez woke her up in the middle of the night and attempted to break into two separate homes, Weaver told KUTV.

"She said he was trying to open up doors and kicking them," Weaver added.

When that didn't work, Sanchez allegedly took Acelynn to his aunt's house and dumped her belongings in the front yard.

Sanchez told his daughter she had to sleep on the lawn, but Acelynn refused, Weaver said.

They then went to the college, just a few blocks from Sanchez's home.

The surveillance footage shows Acelynn, who was just wearing pajama leggings, a shirt and shoes, making a makeshift bed with her blankets before briefly falling asleep.

At other points she can be seen looking around for someone and trying the door handle of a nearby building to see if it was unlocked.

A campus security guard found her in tears, just after she had fallen and scratched her knee, officials said.

Acelynn told the guard that she and her father had been out looking for their dog and he had 'passed out' so she spent the night at the school, according to the Ogden Weber Applied Technology College's incident report.

Weaver said she believes Sanchez told the same story to his own daughter so that she would "stay put".

"He said he's watching her and to not follow him," Weaver added.

Authorities said officers arrested Sanchez on Friday, two weeks after the incident.

Officers arrived at his mother's home and found him trying to hide in the bedroom before he surrendered to police.

Ogden Lt. Tim Scott said that Sanchez had refused to divulge any information while he was in custody.

"We would have liked to ask...why (he) left a five-year-old at the campus, unattended, without a parent, in the early morning hours," Scott told Fox 13.

"He wasn't able to provide that for us. He wasn't cooperative with investigations."

Weaver said she was also angry to hear that Sanchez was already out on bail, adding that he was "grown man" who "needs to take responsibilities for himself".

Gena Weaver said her daughter 'told me she didn't think anybody was ever going to find her and that she was never going to see me again.' Photo  2 News
Gena Weaver said her daughter 'told me she didn't think anybody was ever going to find her and that she was never going to see me again.' Photo 2 News

The mother added that Acelynn has been traumatized by the incident.

"She's very strong and brave, she holds a smile when she's around other people, but when she's home, she breaks down," Weaver said.

"She doesn't want to be in any room by herself. Before, she was sleeping in her own bed in her own room. Now, she sleeps in my bed every night."

Weaver said Acelynn wakes up every night and feels 'to make sure I'm still there'.

Now the mother said she is pursuing a protective order against Sanchez and hopes his parental rights will be taken away.

"I'm not letting her go there ever again, and I want him to be charged with every single thing possible," she said.

"I don't want him to get a slap on the hand. She could've been killed. She had to lie on the cold ground that night. She was left in the dark."

"No child deserves to be left in the dark."

- Daily Mail

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