WILKES-BARRE — An arrest warrant was issued Friday for a man who city police allege abandoned a 6-month-old girl at the Toys R Us store on Kidder Street earlier this week.
Police identified Thomas Himlin Jr., 24, of 104 Union St., Plains Township, after interviewing witnesses and presenting a photo array to employees at the toy store, according to a criminal complaint.
Police said Himlin entered the store at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and asked an employee to watch the infant. Himlin then left and never returned, officers say.
Himlin is facing a child endangerment charge. An arrest warrant was issued by District Judge Thomas Malloy in Wilkes-Barre on Friday afternoon.
According to the criminal complaint:
Police were sent to Kidder Street for several reports happening at the same time, including men fighting in the street, a hitchhiker, and a man who claimed he was in a crash before leaving a baby with a store employee.
Police took custody of the infant. She was evaluated at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital before being placed with Luzerne County Children & Youth Services.
Toys R Us employees said a man came into the store saying he was involved in a fight with two other men at Valley Diner on Kidder Street. That man, later identified as Himlin, arrived at the store driving a green Ford Escape that had front-end damage and deployed air bags.
Himlin initially entered the store alone and asked an employee to call his cell phone in a few minutes. Himlin left, but then returned to the store with an infant in a child car seat.
Himlin placed the infant down and asked an employee to watch the baby while he looked for his phone in his vehicle. Himlin left the store and never returned.
Witnesses told police when Himlin left, he entered a white Ford driven by a woman and occupied by another man. They helped Himlin into the vehicle before driving out of the parking lot.
Police traced the damaged Ford Escape to Himlin’s residence where his parents, Thomas Himlin Sr. and Carla Himlin, reside. Police also found the white Ford parked in the driveway at the house.
Police said Himlin Sr. was uncooperative with detectives.
Carla Himlin told police her son was involved in a crash while caring for the infant. She claimed she was aware her son left the infant at the toy store and had intentions of returning.
Police said the infant’s biological mother, Venessa Filip, contacted police headquarters just after 5 p.m. Thursday, nearly 21 hours after the infant was abandoned at the store. Filip has not been charged.
She told police Himlin offered to baby-sit her daughter as she was busy moving from her residence on Williams Street in Pittston. Filip said she went with a friend to have dinner at Friendly’s on Kidder Street and was not able to contact Himlin to tell him to drop off her daughter at the eatery.
Filip said she attempted several times to contact Himlin but was not able to connect with him. She went to Himlin’s residence in Plains Township and was told by his parents Himlin was involved in a crash and her daughter was in protective custody.
Police are still investigating.