4-Year-Old Girl Still Unclaimed

Girl whose mother was killed by her step dad
CBS/The Early Show
Offers have poured in with requests to adopt abandoned, 4-year-old Valery Lozada, The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler reports.

For four days, all of New York has been transfixed by her face, and story. Child welfare officials took the unusual step of putting Valery on television in the hopes that it would produce more information.

Authorities were unable to find her mother since she was discovered crying and shivering on the street in Queens. And the child, with her hair in pigtails calmly recounted how the man she called Daddy, her mother's live-in-boyfriend, left her in the middle of the night, and drove away.

"I was sleeping and he took me out of bed in the car, and he took me outside with no shoes. And I was crying," she said.

She described her mother as looking "like a princess." And unwittingly, the precocious four-year-old unwittingly solved the mystery surrounding her mother's disappearance. A dozen tips came in from the public after she appeared on television Thursday

NYPD Chief of Queens Detectives, Louis Croce says, "Cesar Ascarrunz has been arrested and been charged with murder in the second degree, tampering with evidence, reckless endangerment, abandonment of a child in the death of Monica Lozada-Rivaineira."

Police ultimately used records from Valery's day care center to figure out her mother's identity. Authorities were still looking for the body of the 26-year-old. Ascarrunz is accused of dumping her bagged corpse in a pile of trash on a Queens street corner.

For now, Valery is with a foster family who will help her deal with news that the woman, who meant so much to her, is gone forever. Child Services plan to consult with a child expert before informing Valery.

"We will also seek a permanent adoptive family," says John Mattingly, the commissioner of New York City Children's Services. "I can look everyone straight in the eye and tell you this girl is going to go to a strong family."

New York Child Services has already taken extraordinary steps allowing TV reporters to interview her, hoping someone would come forward to claim her.

While authorities are checking Valery's immigration status, they're also tracking down her biological father.

Mattingly notes, "We do want to make sure that her family, that could be quite strong, down in Bolivia know what's happened and have a chance to figure out what they would like to see done."

Ascarrunz was remanded into custody after his arraignment on Sunday, said Kevin Ryan, spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. His next court date was scheduled for Oct. 17. Ascarrunz's attorney, Christopher Renfroe, declined any comment.