- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2011

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. (AP) - The middle-aged woman, her husband and her son became perfect neighbors after they arrived a year ago on a quiet suburban cul-de-sac, residents recalled.

That peace was disrupted Wednesday as the media descended on the Bakersfield area after unconfirmed reports flashed across the Internet that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the father of the woman’s 13-year-old son.

The reporters and photographers didn’t see Mildred Patricia Baena or her family, the three having left just ahead of the horde.

Baena’s name was first reported Wednesday by Radar Online and subsequently by other news outlets, including The New York Times, which cited two unnamed friends of the family.

The AP has not independently verified that she is the mother of Schwarzenegger’s child.

As TV satellite trucks gridlocked the block and spilled over to an adjacent street, residents sat in their homes, stunned. Some worried about the effect the news would have on the polite 13-year-old boy who they say often walked a white poodle named Sugar through the neighborhood when he wasn’t swimming in his backyard pool or playing basketball.

“We just want this child to be protected as much as possible. We’ve all made mistakes and to totally destroy a child’s life over that would not be fair,” said Marilyn Steelman, who lives next door.

Residents said the family was friendly and, like other homeowners on the block of fashionable houses with red-tiled roofs and two- and three-car garages, they kept up their house and its neatly trimmed lawn and palm trees.

While the boy was a fixture in the neighborhood, residents say, they rarely saw his mother until she retired 2 1/2 months ago. Until then, she told them, she had been working for Schwarzenegger’s family and had kept an apartment near Schwarzenegger’s Los Angeles home, 100 miles away.

The Schwarzenegger scandal exploded into public view on Monday when the former movie star confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that he had fathered a child out of wedlock years ago and that Shriver, a prominent TV journalist until she put her career on hold after her husband was elected governor, never knew until this year.

Since then Schwarzenegger has vanished and his office has declined to discuss the matter further.

Baena’s adult daughter, Jacqueline Rozo, told The Associated Press her 50-year-old mother had worked for the former governor until recently but would not comment further.

A photo of the boy posted on Baena’s MySpace page shows a fairly strong resemblance to Schwarzenegger, particularly when the former governor and movie star was younger.

“If I saw him or his picture, I would see the resemblance,” Steelman said.

The birth certificate for Baena’s son also shows he was born the same week as the youngest of Schwarzenegger’s and Shriver’s four children. It lists Baena’s ex-husband as the father and says Baena is originally from Guatemala.

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