High Springs police return 6-month-old baby to custodial parent

Baby returned to his custodial parent Monday. Kat Boonzaier/WGFL.

It was an emotional reunion in High Springs Monday.

Authorities returned 6-month-old Romani Pagan-Fritz to the arms of his custodial mother, Cassandra Pagan, after a nearly 15-hour search.

Police say the child's biological mother, Mary Fritz, took him from Pagan's home on Railroad Avenue Sunday night. The two had been married for several years but police say Fritz was deemed unfit to have custody.

"The biological mom has had a history with our department and, from what I'm learning, other departments as well," Sgt. Dustyn Shenk said. "There is a clear indication of alcohol abuse. I worked personally a case where she was intoxicated at the time I had contact with her and it was the same situation: trying to take the child from the residence."

The search for baby Romani ended when police say Fritz gave him over to a case worker with Partnership for Strong Families in Starke. Shenk said Fritz was charged with interfering with custody.

"The best case scenario has been met for us," Shenk said. "That means the child is safely back with who the state says is the rightful temporary guardian and can best care for the child."

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