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Boy left at McDonald’s is victim of custody exchange mix-up

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WAUWATOSA -- Three-year-old Toby's smiling face flashed across TV screens Tuesday night after he was abandoned at a Wauwatosa McDonald's. As it turned out, Toby's mom may have been watching, and she spoke with Wauwatosa police.

Now, two big questions remain: why was the boy left at the McDonald's restaurant at Highway 100 and Burleigh Monday around 4 p.m., and what happened to him overnight? Toby spent Monday evening with the manager who took the boy home with him. The manager then called Wauwatosa police on Tuesday.

Police say Toby’s mother and grandmother were supposed to meet at the McDonald's for a custody exchange. Somewhere there was a mix-up and the boy was left behind.

Tuesday, just before 6:00 p.m., Toby's mother arrived at the Wauwatosa Police Department. About an hour later Toby's father met with investigators. Friends of Toby's father saw the child's photo of TV and one of those friends described Toby's father's reaction Tuesday. "It was shock. He said what is my son doing on TV?"

Police say for at least six months, a custody exchange took place inside the restaurant. Monday Toby's grandmother and mother were supposed to meet with the child, but something went wrong . "I think mom was saying she thought the exchange was supposed to be on a different day. Our understanding is (that the child's grandmother left Toby by himself)," Wauwatosa Police Lt. Gerald J. Witkowski said.

As a result, police say Toby spent seven hours in McDonald's, and when closing time came, the manager decided to take him home. Investigators say the manager contacted them Tuesday afternoon. Police say they would have preferred the manager call them immediately, but believe the manager had only good intentions. "Right now, the child seems to be fine, and there's no indication that anything went to the contrary," Lt. Witkowski said.

Police say they'll be reviewing all the information from the mother, grandmother, father and McDonald's manager. When asked if charges will be filed, Lt. Witkowski said, "It's an ongoing investigation, and it's too soon to make speculation as far as charges."

As of 7:30 Tuesday evening, Toby remained in Child Protective Services custody. Investigators continue to gather details on this case, and say some of this may need to be resolved in family court.