On Tuesday, maintenance staff at the Howard Johnson in Niagara Falls were called to a room because a family from Brooklyn couldn't open the safe. Inside was a crying baby, apparently under a year old.
The family, described as Asian, left before Niagara police could question them; according to the Daily News, "After a shouting match heard by at least one witness, the couple left the hotel before cops arrived, leaving more questions than answers, officials said. Cheech Unelli, a parking attendant who works across the street from the hotel, said an employee he knows 'overheard the wife giving the husband hell,' he said. 'That’s when they decided they better leave.'"
The Niagara police then asked that their car, a light grey van with NJ plates, not be allowed to cross back into the United States, explaining, "Police wish to locate the family to ascertain the welfare of the child." The police even asked the NYPD to be on the lookout for the van, in case it came back through the border.
Other hotel guests were shocked—one told the CBC that he could barely get his laptop in the safe. And a Niagara police spokesperson said, "It was quite traumatizing for the hotel workers, finding this infant in the safe like that. The maintenance worker was quite shaken up."
Last night, the family, who were traveling with at least one other family, came forward to the police after realizing they were wanted for questioning. It turns out that the family's children were playing, CBC reports, "when they decided the safe was a good spot to hide, but an older sibling didn't know how to open it after the baby went into it."
Det.-Const. Amanda Sanders of Niagara Regional Police Service said, "They've been co-operative ever since we've gotten a hold of them... We can say now that there was no criminality involved in this. We had a positive outcome here. The child is safe and happy. We have no concerns with the safety of a child."