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Gazette Premium Content Father of toddler in stolen car arrested on suspicion of child abuse

By Andrea Sinclair Published: August 21, 2013

The father of a 2-year-old left sleeping in a car when it was stolen Tuesday night was taken into custody along with a female companion, as Colorado Springs police reunited the little girl with her mother.

Michael Morlang, 24, of Colorado Springs, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to influence a public official, child abuse and an outstanding warrant. He is being held at the El Paso County jail on a $3,000 bond, court records show.

Justina Perez, 24, of Colorado Springs, was arrested on suspicion of obstruction and child abuse, as well as multiple outstanding warrants, according to court records. She is also being held at county jail, but no bond is listed.

Morlang and Perez stopped at the 7-Eleven on 981 S. Union Blvd. shortly after 10 p.m. to make an ATM withdrawal and left the vehicle's engine running with the toddler inside, police said.

Surveillance footage showed Perez following Morlang into the store, police spokeswoman Barbara Miller said.

Moments after the two walked away from the car, it was stolen by someone police have not been able to identify, Miller said.

Morlang reported the 2005 Hyundai Sonata stolen immediately and police were able to locate the car shortly after, with his daughter safe inside.

"Following a thorough investigation, conflicting statements made this case difficult to follow," Miller said. "Both suspects lied and we have no description of the person who stole the car. Thankfully the child was reunited with her mother."

Tayanna White-Morlang was identified by police as the owner of the stolen vehicle and the 2-year-old's mother.

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