Grandmother accused of trying to give girl away

Vernice Ruenell Zagerman, 52, is charged with endangering a child

January 25, 2012 3:38:36 PM PST
A grandmother is accused of a disturbing crime. Prosecutors say she tried to give away her own grandchild. Now she's behind bars, and the child has been taken away from her.

Vernice Ruenell Zagerman is in county jail on $15,000 bond, accused of endangering a child. But this is not Zagerman's first brush with the law.

Zagerman, 52, is accused of trying to give her young granddaughter away to strangers. Prosecutors say on Monday, Zagerman was intoxicated and asking people at a gas station if they wanted the little girl.

Assistant District Attorney Janna Oswald explained, "She was going up to different people, going in and out of the gas station, attempting to give away her three-year-old grandchild."

One of those people Zagerman allegedly approached called police. Before police arrived, prosecutors say Zagerman jumped into a cab with the preschooler. Police, however, were able to pull the cab over and they arrested Zagerman.

We went to the address listed for Zagerman. A family friend who answered the door there said the little girl is now in her mother's custody.

"Nothing happened to her. She was in the cab on the way home when somebody saw her and called the police," Curtis said.

This is not Zagerman's first time in legal trouble. She has convictions for drugs and theft, assaulting a family member and assaulting a public servant resulting in bodily injury.

Despite these previous scrapes with the law, a family friend says this situation is just a big mistake.

"I think that's what it was," he said. "A big misunderstanding."

Zagerman's daughter is the mother of the three-year-old and prosecutors say she was in school when the incident happened on Monday.