CRIME
06/19/2014 03:23 pm ET Updated Jun 23, 2014

Stacey Nikkel Abandons Toddler In Field Days After Winning Custody: Cops

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Days after a winning a court battle for custody of her 2-year-old daughter, a mother in Tehachapi, California was arrested when the girl was found alone in a field in a tipped-over stroller.

Stacey Nikkel, 34, is charged with child endangerment, child abandonment, and being under the influence of a controlled substance, ABC 23 reports.

The child was spotted in a vacant field by passerby Glenna Whitman at around 9 a.m. Sunday. Police believe the toddler had been there since 10:30 the night before, according to the Taft Midway Driller.

Whitman told Bakersfield Now that when she saw the stroller in the field, "Something was telling me, 'something's not right."'

Whitman returned to the field a short time later with her friend Luanna Arden, and the two discovered the little girl inside the stroller.

"She was very dirty, with tears, snots, hair covered in fox-tails," Arden told Bakersfield Now.

The Monday prior to the incident, Nikkel won a custody battle with a couple who was trying to adopt her daughter. Nikkel had lost custody in 2012, when she was charged with willful cruelty to a child, but the case was ultimately dismissed.

The toddler, who was physically unharmed, is now in protective custody.

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