Generally, when people picture a kidnapper in their minds, chances are they envision a scary, hulking man who wants to snatch their child away for sinister purposes. They probably wouldn’t picture a friendly looking woman who simply was so desperate to love a child that she’d be willing to steal their baby— but cases like that happen way more than you probably realize.
Some of these little ones are rescued from their hapless kidnappers within hours of being taken. Others spend huge chunks of their lives being loved and cared for by a woman they have no idea isn’t their real mother. Some of them were even abducted just hours or days after being born.
Luckily, these days most hospitals have plenty of systems in place to make sure no one walks off with a baby that isn’t theirs— from alarms strapped to a newborn’s ankle or wrist, to mandatory ID bracelets for moms and dads, to doors that will start blaring an alarm if a baby is taken through it. There are plenty of other places, however, where all that stands between a baby and a crazed kidnapper is their mom or dad.
Here are 15 women who snatched babies away from their families in hopes of raising them as their own.
15 Stolen From A Good Samaritan
A dad who was out for a drive with his little girl was just trying to do a good deed when he offered a ride to a woman walking alone along the road. But as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Police say that woman, Joanne Shaw, hopped into the car and just moments later starting trying to yank the man’s toddler out of her car seat. The driver told her to stop but Shaw allegedly insisted she was going to take the girl. A fight over the steering wheel caused the car to come to a stop, giving Shaw the opportunity to jump out of the car and make a run for it with the girl. Luckily, the dad was able to chase them down and the 2-year-old wasn’t hurt in the struggle.
14 Stolen Years
It took 18 years for Kamiyah Mobley to finally be reunited with her birth family. Kidnapped at a mere 8 hours old from the hospital where she was born, she would spend her entire childhood thinking she was actually Alexis Manigo, daughter of Gloria Williams. In reality, though, Williams had posed as a nurse to snatch the baby girl away from the hospital. A massive search ensued, but police weren’t able to bring the baby back home. She remained missing until she grew suspicious at 18 years old, and a DNA test confirmed that Anigo was indeed the kidnapped Mobley. The girl was said to have had a stable childhood with her kidnapper mom. But within just a few hours of learning her true identity, she was on FaceTime reconnecting with her true family. Williams’s court case is still ongoing.
13 Kidnapped At The Mall
Cherie Amoore claims it was heartbreak that led her to kidnap a baby boy at a Pennsylvania mall. Amoore told police that she’d lost her own baby just a few weeks before the incident, and that holding a baby in her arms again made her feel incredible— even if she had to kidnap him to feel it. Police say Amoore spotted the baby boy at the mall with his mom, and struck up a conversation with her. She then asked if she could hold the boy, and when the mother said no, Amoore waited until she was distracted by her other children and then grabbed the baby. The abduction sparked an Amber Alert and a massive search for the little boy, and thankfully police were able to track him and Amoore down in just a few hours. He was returned to his mother unharmed.
12 Raised By A Kidnapper
When the parents of baby Carlina Renae White took her to a Harlem hospital, they were hoping that the little girl would be cured of a fever and head back home healthy. What happened instead was a total nightmare. A woman who was pretending to be a nurse kidnapped their baby, and they wouldn’t see her again for years. That woman, Ann Pettway, took the baby girl home and raised her as her own for more than two decades. The truth wouldn’t come until the girl herself grew suspicious. She questioned Pettway as to why she didn’t have a birth certificate, and Pettway tried to tell her that a drug addicted woman had given her the girl as a baby. The girl then found herself on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website, and contacted police. Pettway was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to several years in jail.
11 Stolen Newborn
When Anquinisha Cummings arrived at a Louisiana hospital to visit a new mom and her three day old baby, she claimed she’d been sent there by a mutual friend to drop off a gift. But police say her actual motives were much less generous. She waited until the mother stepped into the bathroom and then took off with the baby boy. Security footage captured her walking out with the boy in her arms. It turns out that Cummings had been a patient herself at the hospital earlier in the day and may have hatched the idea to kidnap a baby while she was being treated. A hospital employee remembered her and helped police track her down and recover the baby safely. The hospital said it would review it’s safety procedures and tighten security protocols to prevent another incident like this from happening.
10 Discovered By Her Long-Lost Sister
After the baby girl they named Zephany Nurse was kidnapped at just three days old from the hospital where she was born, her parents continued to celebrate her birthday every year and pray that someday she’d come home safely. But the girl had seemingly disappeared without a trace. But one day, Nurse’s parents realized that their other daughter had made a new friend at school— a friend who just so happened to look exactly like her. The girl was tested, and they were shocked to discover she was in fact their missing daughter. She’d been raised by her kidnapper for years, and had no idea that she wasn’t actually her mother. That woman, whose identity has never been released, was convicted and sent to prison. Zephany, however, continued to lived with the woman’s husband, who she had grown up thinking was her biological father.
9 Attacked At Walmart
Paula Roach not only convinced her family that she was pregnant, but also that she’d actually given birth— she just needed a baby to prove it. She saw her chance in a Walmart parking lot and snatched a baby girl right out of her family’s mini-van. The baby’s mother tried to chase after them, but Roach hopped in her car and sped away, dragging the mother for several yards. Roach then drove the girl to the nursing home where her mom worked to show her off. But people there immediately recognized that something didn’t add up. Roach claimed to have given birth just the day before, but the baby girl’s pierced ears and lack of an umbilical cord made it very clear that that wasn’t the case. Police were called, and after they took Roach in for questioning she confessed that she’d stolen the girl.
8 Plucked From A Mother’s Arms
Blaise Deacon was just trying to enjoy a family vacation in Spain when she had to fight for her baby’s safety. Deacon told police she was holding her 23-month-old daughter at their hotel when a strange woman marched up to her and simply announced that she was taking the girl. She then proceeded to try and rip the girl out of Deacon’s arms. Luckily, Deacon and her sister were able to fight off the woman and keep the little girl safe. The woman then took off, but was never caught. Deacon said that thankfully her daughter was too little to understand her narrow escape and was largely untroubled by the scary incident. Deacon shared her story on Facebook to remind other parents to keep a close eye and a tight grip on their children.
7 Not Really A Doctor
When a woman dressed as a doctor entered a Pakistani hospital room and asked to see the baby, the little one’s grandmother obligingly handed her over. After all, what harm could a doctor do? There was one major problem, however: the woman wasn’t a doctor at all, but instead a member of baby-snatching ring. Police say nearly a dozen people were involved in the plot to nab babies from the hospital and sell them for profit. Thanks to surveillance footage from the hospital, however, they weren’t able to get away with it. They were able to track down the fake doctor, who confessed to what she’d done and told cops where the baby was being held. Police were able to track the infant down and reunite the family. Thankfully, the baby was unharmed.
6 Desperate To Save The Marriage
A Florida woman was apparently so desperate to stop her baseball playing husband from leaving her that she kidnapped a baby to raise as their own. Police say Amalia Tabata-Pereira pretended to be a social worker and walked up to a migrant woman who had a newborn baby. Tabata-Pereira told the woman she needed to hand over the baby or risk deportation, and the frightened mother did as she was told. Tabata-Pereira said she did it because her husband, a baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirate, wanted to be a dad and she feared he would leave her if she didn’t make it happen. Needless to say, the plan backfired spectacularly and they’re now divorced. The baby was tracked down by police within a day, and Tabata-Pereria was sentenced to 24 years in jail— one year for each hour the baby girl was missing.
5 Fake Pregnancy
Like any excited mother to be, Tanya Shelton was eagerly anticipating her new arrival by reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting, registering for baby gear, and proudly showing off a sonogram picture. She even had a baby shower. But police say Shelton was not actually pregnant, which may explain why she decided to kidnap a baby instead. Shelton was a nurse’s aide, and used her access to snatch a newborn baby from the hospital where she worked. She told the baby girl’s mother that she was there to give her a break, and then took off with the baby. Apparently having second thoughts, Shelton then abandoned the girl behind a store about 150 miles away from the hospital. Thankfully, police were able to find her there unharmed. Shelton was arrested a short time later.
4 Held Captive For Her Baby
Teka Adams thought she’d hit the jackpot when a stranger offered to give her tons of baby items for free. Adams, who was 9 months pregnant and homeless at the time, jumped at the chance and got into a car with the woman. Little did she know that she was about to be held captive for days by a woman who planned to steal her baby. When the kidnapper, Veronica Deramous, entered the room where Adams was being held with an assortment of knives and boxcutters, Adams thought at first that she was about to tortured. The truth was even worse— Deramous planned to cut the baby out of Adams’s womb. Adams suffered some cuts on her belly, but she managed to overpower Deramous and escape. She later delivered a baby she named Miracle.
3 A Fight To The End
When Katie Smith decided to fake a pregnancy, she really went all out. She not only told friends and family she was expecting, but also started wearing maternity clothes and even set up a nursery. People who know her say she even looked pregnant to anyone who saw her. The only thing missing was the baby— which she apparently decided to steal from Sarah Brady, who actually was 9 months along. Smith lured Brady to her apartment by saying she’d accidentally received some of Brady’s packages through a mix up with their baby registries. Then, she attacked Brady with a knife. But Brady fought back hard, hell-bent on saving her and her unborn baby’s lives. She ended up killing Smith in self-defense while she and her baby survived unharmed.
2 Lured Online
An expecting mom just trying to score a good deal on baby clothes online ended up being duped in an encounter that nearly cost her her life. Police say Dynel Lane lured Michelle Wilkins with an ad for maternity and baby clothes. But when Wilkins got there, Lane attacked her. A former nurse, Lane was able to preform an amateur C-section on Wilkins to try and steal her baby. Tragically, however, the baby was killed in the process. Lane then convinced her boyfriend that she’d suffered a miscarriage at 7 months along and took the dead baby to the hospital. While they were gone, Wilkins managed to call 911 and ended up being taken to the same hospital. Lane was later found guilty of attempted murder and unlawfully terminating a pregnancy.
1 Her Life Ended For Her Baby
Ashleigh Wade spent months posting pictures of sonograms and baby clothes on Facebook, gushing about her bun in the oven, and even created a baby registry. The only problem, however, was that she wasn’t pregnant. Wade came up with a deadly solution to that issue in the form of a childhood friend who really was expecting. She invited Angelikque Sutton over to her house, where she preceded to slash her throat and then cut her open to remove her baby. Sutton died, but miraculously, the baby survived. When police showed up at the bloody scene, Wade insisted that she herself had just given birth. Police could tell that obviously wasn’t the case thanks to the real mother’s mangled body. Sutton was taken for a psychiatric evaluation and later pleaded innocent to the murder.
Sources: New York Daily News, Washington Post, The Daily Beast, NPR, The Mirror, Geo.TV, New York Post, Tampa Bay Times, ABC News, CBS News, Southeast Missourian, CNN, Inside Edition, The Independent, The Guardian, The New York Times
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