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Stacey NikkelTEHACHAPI, CA – Police have charged 34-year-old Stacey Nikkel with child endangerment after her toddler was found in a in a field inside a tipped-over stroller – just days after winning custody of the child.

The 2-year-old girl had been in the custody of a couple who were trying to adopt her, but Nikkel took them court to regain custody. On June 9, a judge said that CPS dropped the ball, and awarded custody back to Nikkel.

This last Sunday, a person found the toddler in a vacant field stuck inside a tipped-over stroller wearing only a t-shirt, shorts and no shoes.. Investigators believe the child was alone in the stroller from about 10:30 p.m. Saturday night until found at about 9 a.m. the next morning.

“My heart just broke for her, because she was sitting here all alone,” said the woman who found the toddler. “She was very dirty, with tears, snots, hair covered in fox-tails.” 

Deputies later located and arrested Nikkel and charged her with child endangerment, child abandonment, and being under the influence of a controlled substance. She’s currently in the Central Receiving Jail on a $20,000 bond.

“This one’s kind of strange because we’re trying to figure it out ourselves,” said Sgt. Doug Wilson. “We’re still actively investigating this case, we’re still looking really for more answers to tie everything together.”

According to Kern County Superior Court records, Nikkel was charged in 2012 with willful cruelty to a child, but that case was dismissedHer daughter has been placed into protective custody. Here’s hoping the couple who lost custody of the girl will now have a better chance of getting her back.

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