Just before dawn Sunday, 4-year-old Shaniya Wendy Jacques-Louis showed up at her Little Haiti apartment asking her mommy for juice.
“She just walked up here herself and started knocking,” her god-sister Patricia Cenatus said. ‘She said, ‘Mommy I want juice.’ ”
The little girl went missing two days before — just as mysteriously as she reappeared Sunday morning.
“It’s just fortunate that she was returned alive,” said Miami police spokeswoman Frederica Burden, adding that police are now working to figure out the “bizarre” chain of events. “With a window of time that large it’s usually a tragic ending.”
On Friday afternoon, Shaniya was playing on her tricycle outside her family’s Little Haiti apartment at 36 NE 64th Ter. with her sisters and other children when the family realized she was gone. A suspicious man was seen right before she disappeared.
Police blanketed the neighborhood with fliers of the missing girl and put out a sketch of the man.
Then about 5:30 a.m. Sunday, police say, a witness driving near the apartment noticed a man with a little girl. It wasn’t clear if the man was the same as in the sketch.
“She saw the little girl and honked her horn,” Burden said.
The horn alerted another neighbor, who came outside. Together they confronted the man, Burden said.
The man then told the little girl, who was wearing the same blue and black shirt, purple shorts and shoes that she wore when she disappeared, to go home.
“She seemed OK,” said Burden, adding that Shaniya was checked out in the hospital, but it was not clear if she had been hurt. “She wasn’t crying or anything. She drank like 10 juices.”
The man took off on foot. Burden said they did bring a man in for questioning, but later found he was not the man who dropped the little girl off. Police on Sunday released a sketch of a second man they are also looking for in connection with Shaniya’s disappearance.
Meanwhile family and friends gathered at the Jacques-Louis residence to sing and pray. Their joyous song could be heard on the street.
“We are thanking the Lord that she is alive and safe,” said Cedred Eugene, a family friend. He said no one understands how the little girl could just be taken and then given back like nothing happened.
“This is not something you expect to happen,” he said. “The family just happy she is back.”
The family spent Sunday at the hospital having Shaniya checked out and being questioned by police.
It wasn’t until after 3 p.m. that Shaniya and her mother returned to their home in a police car. Little Shaniya, with braids in her hair, wearing a T-shirt, shorts and pink sandals, was whisked into the family’s home. She smiled before she disappeared inside.
Her mother, Estelle Jacques-Louis , said, “I am happy, happy, happy.” When asked how Shaniya was, she said good.
“Thank you, God,” she said, with her arms outstretched. “Thank you so much.”
Anyone with information on Shaniya’s disappearance is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477 or visit their website at crimestoppersmiami.com.