ST. CLOUD (AP) -- The woman whose infant son was missing for two hours after her minivan was stolen says she knows she made a bad decision in leaving the child in the vehicle while she ran inside a liquor store.
Julie Houge left 9-month-old Alex inside her running van around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday while she went inside Club Liquor. When she returned, the van was gone.
"My heart wasn't beating anymore, it stopped," Houge, 32, Waite Park, told KMSP-TV on Thursday.
Police found the van -- with Alex, unharmed, inside it -- around 10:50 p.m. Two teen-agers were arrested in the theft.
"It was a poor judgment call," the mother acknowledged. "But it was a judgment call, and I made it, and it cost me."
Jackie Houge, Julie's twin sister, said she is a good mother to the boy and his 11-year-old sister.
"She was only in the store for 37 seconds," Jackie Houge told the St. Cloud Times. "She never thought for a second, it never crossed her mind, that she'd run in and in 37 seconds he'd be gone."
The Stearns County attorney will decide whether Julie Houge should face child endangerment charges, according to Police Capt. Richard Wilson.
The teen-agers, both boys who had run away from the St. Cloud Children's Home, were in secure detention, Wilson said.
One of the boys faces more than vehicle theft charges because he tried to grab a police officer's weapon, Wilson said. The investigation was forwarded to the county attorney's office on Thursday for possible charges.
The incident prompted Minnesota's first AMBER Alert, which notifies the public when a child is missing. The system was not a factor in police capturing the teen-agers and finding the child.
Julie Houge said she was grateful that Alex's story had a happy ending but understood that the situation could have turned out much differently.
"I know I'm not the only parent out here who's ever done this," she said. "It was a very, very hard lesson to learn. But he's back with us, he's safe, and that's what matters."
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