Ansonia police: Toddler found wandering in California not Vanessa Morales

Photo of Tara O'Neill

ANSONIA — For the second January in a row, a false Vanessa Morales sighting has grabbed law enforcement attention — this time after a toddler who resembled her was found by police in California.

Vanessa Morales went missing from her mother’s Ansonia home since Dec. 2, 2019.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Ansonia Police Lt. Patrick Lynch said the department “received information” on Monday “regarding a child found wandering around an apartment complex in San Diego.”

“A photo of the child posted online by local authorities and the media had a strong resemblance to Vanessa Morales,” Lynch said. “The San Diego Sheriff’s Department was contacted but the child was not Vanessa Morales.”

On Monday night, Sheriff Bill Gore, of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, shared a post on Twitter, saying deputies found a toddler wandering at a basketball court near an apartment building.

Gore described the child as Hispanic and said she was believed to be about 1-year-old. He said she was found wearing only a diaper, but a neighbor offered deputies some clothes to keep the girl warm.

https://twitter.com/SDSheriff/status/1348836271540506624?s=20

On Dec. 2, 2019, police responded to Christine Holloway’s Ansonia home for a welfare check and found the 43-year-old mother beaten to death. Her child was not in the residence.

Police named Vanessa Morales’ father, Jose Morales, as a suspect in her disappearance and Holloway’s death. He was charged with Holloway’s homicide in February 2020. He pleaded not guilty the next month. Court records show Morales is next expected in court on Jan. 21.

Vanessa, who turned 2 in September 2020, has not been found.

On Jan. 1, 2020, Ansonia police were contacted by Bridgeport police about a possible sighting of Vanessa at Bridgeport Hospital.

At the time, Ansonia detectives responded to the hospital and reviewed surveillance video that showed a girl who police said “resembled Vanessa Morales” with several other people. Detectives identifed the people in the video and confirmed the child was not Vanessa.

The FBI has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who can lead investigators to Vanessa or who turns her over to authorities.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI New Haven hotline at 203-503-5555 or Ansonia police at 203-735-1885.