Claire Huenefeld, 38, had temporary custody of the child as a foster parent, and now is charged with child endangerment

By Jeff Truesdell
May 14, 2018 12:37 PM

The Saturday evening grocery shopper was startled by what she saw in the parking lot.

Inside a closed minivan with its windows rolled up sat an unattended infant strapped into a carseat.

Neither the minivan’s engine nor its air conditioning were running on an evening when the outside temperature was 90 degrees, prompting the woman to call 911 and notify the manager of the Kroger store in Knoxville, Tennessee, local police reported with a news release posted to Facebook.

Knoxville Police Department

The manager grabbed cold water and towels and ran with the woman to the minivan, where they found its doors unlocked and entered the vehicle.

“The child was crying, had a red face, and was sweating,” the police statement said. “They immediately gave the child water as well as dousing the child with the water to cool him down.”

Knoxville Police Department

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About 15 minutes later, suspect Claire Huenefeld, who had been shopping inside the grocery store, returned to the scene at the vehicle and told authorities “she did not remember she had the child with her,” according to police.

Knoxville Police Department

At the time the infant was in the temporary foster care of the woman, authorities say.

Huenefeld, 38, of Knoxville, was arrested and charged with one count of child endangerment.

She was processed and released from Knox County’s Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility. It was not clear if she has entered a plea or retained an attorney who could speak on her behalf.

Police say the child was taken to Children’s Hospital to be treated and then released to the custody of Child Protective Services.