NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A young girl who police said was found abandoned at the Port Authority Bus Terminal led authorities to the body of her mother in Connecticut and now a multi-state manhunt is underway for the girl’s father.
Elmer Gomez Ruono, 32, was last seen at the terminal where police said he left his 5-year-old daughter. A Port Authority police officer passing by saw the girl her all by herself on Monday. The girl told him her daddy instructed her to “wait here” but never returned.
She gave the officer her address, a home on Courtland Avenue in Stamford, Conn., and that led police to a gruesome discovery.
“We went there on a wellness check and when we got there, we found a female deceased inside the apartment, about 30 years old,” said Tom Barcello with the Stamford Police Department.
Police said the dead woman was the girl’s mother.
“To have lost a mother like that, it’s a very big tragedy for her,” said Barcello.
They had just moved into the apartment one day earlier. Sources said the family celebrated their move into their new apartment with a party on Sunday, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.
“She appears to be very articulate,” Police Capt. Richie Conklin told WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau. “Even though she lived in this apartment for one day, she was able to provide police with the address.”
No cause of death has been identified for the mother, but police late Monday were treating the death as a possible homicide due to injuries to her body. Sources said there were signs of a struggle.
“Hopefully the little girl did not witness anything,” said neighbor Pete Desantis. “She would have trauma.”
Stamford police said the young girl is in protective custody. Conklin said they hope to find a relative who may take in the child, but if that’s not possible, the little girl may become a ward of the state, Schneidau reported.
Authorities said they believe Gomez Rauno and his wife were in the U.S. illegally. They’re trying to figure out if the girl’s mother has relatives in Guatemala, she had been living in Flemington, N.J.
Police said the girl’s father had been working at a diner in Stamford across the street from the police department. They want to interview the girl, but said they can’t until they get permission from a guardian.
Police have questioned the woman’s ex-boyfriend, who came down to the bus terminal Monday night. He has not been arrested or charged. They said he has given them information that’s helped in the investigation.
The girl’s father is yet to be found, and Stamford police said they want to make her a ward of the state so they can speak to her about what she knows.
Ruono stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds. He has long black hair, a medium build and medium complexion.
Anyone with information on Ruono’s whereabouts is asked to call Stamford police.