We’ve all read the horrifying headlines of children who were kidnapped from their parents, either by strangers or by family members and friends. We’ve watched baby snatching story lines on TV shows that had us sitting on the edges of our seats, waiting for the FBI officers to come through and save the stolen baby while eliminating the bad guys. The truth is, some kidnapping victims do return home, and their abductors are captured and punished. Sadly, others cases end with the children being killed by their captors, and some kids even vanish without a trace.
While kidnapping cases can be fascinating, it leaves parents with a real fear of having their own children being abducted, and it can be an overwhelmingly scary feeling. We never want to imagine our child scared, hurt, or alone, crying for mom or dad, and not being able to get to them to offer comfort.
The thought of a kidnapping happening to our own families or someone we know is frightening to a lot of parents. Child abductions are haunting, and the lingering effects of them can paralyze an entire community for a lifetime.
We share 15 heart wrenching cases of families whose babies were kidnapped. Some end on a happy note, but some cases tragically destroy the lives of those involved. The stories will stay with you long after you finish reading them.
15 Missing Baby Girl
In 2006 a woman by the name of Stephanie Anderson Jones entered a new mom’s hospital room after she had given birth. Jones was dressed in hospital scrubs, and befriended Erica Yasaga, the mom of a newborn baby girl. Yasaga thought the woman was a nurse, as she came to her room many times during her hospital stay.
Shortly after Yasaga had gone home with her baby, Jones visited her under the claim that she wanted to check and see how she was doing. The two women talked and then decided to take the baby for a walk. Sometime during the outing, Jones snatched the baby away while the new mom was distracted. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending as an anonymous tip led police to the infant. In a car in a parking garage, the infant was found safe, despite the triple-digit temperature in the vehicle.
14 Baby Kayden
In Wisconsin, a six-day old infant was snatched from his crib inside his great grandmother’s house. The crime shocked the country, and had everyone riveted to the case. The baby boy’s aunt, Kristen Smith, had faked her own pregnancy and stole baby Kayden to pass off as her own child. Smith even had a fake pregnancy belly, and a birth certificate application filled out that was later found in her home and car.
Once the baby was reported missing, the FBI was called in and hundreds of officers began the search in the -10 degree temperature. With Smith being the only likely suspect, police narrowed the search along I-80 in Iowa. Now missing 28 hours in freezing temperatures, the hope of finding baby Kayden alive was dwindling.
One officer saw a storage bin sitting outside a gas station that caught his eye. He opened the container, afraid of what he might find, and heard a small noise. In disbelief, he lifted baby Kayden out, very much alive and healthy, despite missing for almost thirty hours with no food, in the bitter cold.
13 Aisenberg Case
The Aisenberg’s third child, Sabrina, was born in 1997, joining an 8-year-old brother, and a 4-year-old sister. The family lived in a single-story, ranch home in a safe neighborhood where they would sometimes leave their windows and doors unlocked. The master bedroom that the parents slept in was on the opposite side of the home from their kid’s rooms. Sabrina was put to bed in her crib each night, and was sleeping through the night by the time she was a month old.
Three days before Thanksgiving, the mother, Marlene, went to wake the children for school. When she entered baby Sabrina’s room, the crib was empty, and Sabrina was gone along with the yellow blanket she always slept with. Marlene began to scream, bringing her husband Steve running to the bedroom. They searched every inch of the house, noticing that the garage door had been left open, along with the door leading from the garage to the laundry room. Marlene ran to the neighbors houses, terrified, and asking if they had seen Sabrina, while Steve called 911.
The couple searched for years and even appeared in national media urging the public to help find their child. Five years later, in 2003, they located a girl in Illinois fitting missing Sabrina’s description. A DNA test was performed, and sadly revealed she was not their daughter. She is still reported as a missing child, and her case is an open and active investigation.
12 Ronnie's Abduction
A 65-year-old grandmother, Vien Nguyen, and her accomplice Alyssa Chang, went to visit her two-year-old grandson and his mother one day in April, 2015. The two visitors used a stun gun to subdue the mom, and then tied her hands together with zip ties. Nguyen and Chang then took the mom, along with baby Ronnie, to another house and tied the mother up inside the garage.
That same night, Chang asked her brother to baby-sit 2-year-old Ronnie while she went out. Her brother was unaware of of what Chang had done. While they were out, the mother managed to free herself, and went into the house searching for her child. She was unable to locate him, and ran to a nearby house where she contacted a friend who took her to the police. The police issued an Amber Alert the same night.
The next morning, Chang’s brother was having breakfast with the child he was still babysitting, and noticed the Amber Alert posted on Facebook. Realizing he was sitting with the missing child, he immediately called the police. Ronnie was returned to his mother safe and sound, while Chang and Nguyen were charged with kidnapping, assault, and unlawful imprisonment.
11 Searching For Hope
Faith Stilgoe and her family spent the day out visiting friends. They had gotten home late, and Faith and her husband proceeded to take the kids out of the car, and put them to bed without waking them, as they had done many times before. They each grabbed a sleeping boy, and carried them to their beds, tucking them in. Walking out to get her daughter, only 40 seconds later, Faith saw her car being driven away, with baby Hope still in the car.
A neighbor heard Faith screaming, and called the police. A massive hunt including police cars and a helicopter began to locate the car and missing baby. As more time passed, and no clues found, Faith felt her hope dwindling. Finally, a call came in that the baby had been found. The police took Faith and her husband to the scene, just 200 yards away on a street just behind their own. The car was parked on the side of the road, and a screaming baby Hope was in her inside, still in her car seat. One of the police officers retrieved her, and handed her to her mother.
10 Natalie's Disappearance
While finishing up her shopping trip with her three children, Maggie Horrell was stopped by a woman claiming to be a store detective. The posing detective told Maggie she needed to go speak with a manager, and offered to watch her children while she went upstairs. Maggie accepted the offer, but took her 3-year-old son, who was a handful, with her. She left her nine-year-old daughter, Louise, and 5-month-old baby Natalie with the “detective.”
Maggie found the manager, and as he was telling her he had no knowledge of a detective, Louise came running to her mother, screaming that the lady had taken the baby. Someone at the store had called the police, and they took Maggie and her children to the police station. Seven hours later, police found her stroller at a bus station, but saw no sign of baby Natalie or her abductor.
The next morning, the Horrells gave interviews to news stations with hope that it was the best way to find their baby. Around 7:00 that evening, the police received a call from a man who said he had seen his ex-wife with a baby fitting Natalie’s description.
Two hours later, police drove the couple to an address 200 miles from their home. They were led into a room where an officer held a baby dressed in blue. Maggie ran over and scooped Natalie up, thankful she was safe and alive.
9 Amber Alert For Jenna
One afternoon a grandmother offered to take her three-year-old granddaughter, Jenna, shopping with her to give her mom some much needed time alone. About an hour after they had left, her dad’s car pulled in the driveway, and he jumped out crying that someone had stolen her mother’s car with little Jenna in it.
The grandmother was waiting in a checkout line, when a nice man had approached her to let her know her car had a flat tire. He offered to change it, and the grandmother accepted. When he was finished, he offered to test the steering so she handed him the keys. He jumped in and just took off, with Jenna buckled into her car seat in the back seat.
The police issued an Amber Alert, but it took a little longer than expected as the grandmother couldn’t recall her license plate number. The next morning, a call came in that the car had been located with a little girl inside of it. Jenna was found unharmed, and still buckled into her car seat.
8 Oklahoma Horror
In the middle of the night, a nurse in an Oklahoma hospital entered new mom Teresa Morse’s room to wake her. The nurse quietly told Teresa that she was going to take her baby to the nursery. Morse was confused, stating her baby was not in the room. The nurse told her she would check the nursery and hurried out of the room. Feeling uneasy, Morse followed her and when she opened the door into the hallway, she saw worried nurses racing towards the nursery, as one panic stricken nurse approached her. She told her that her baby was missing.
Baby Whitney was abducted by a lady named Heather Brewster, who posed as a nurse. Brewster stole the baby as part of her plan to convince others she had birthed the child herself. A nationwide search began for baby Whitney, and she was found ten days later in Missouri, unharmed.
7 An Attack In Colorado
During her 34th week of pregnancy, Michelle Wilkins responded to an ad on Craigslist for maternity and baby clothes. She had just moved to Colorado, from North Carolina with her boyfriend, Dan. The seller, Dynel Lane, attacked Wilkins, beating and stabbing her. She then cut her stomach open, using a kitchen knife and a piece of glass, and took the baby girl out. She left Wilkins bleeding on the basement floor.
Trying to stop the bleeding, Wilkins was able to lock herself in a room and call 911. First Responders soon arrived and took her to a Colorado hospital, where she underwent surgery.
In the meantime, Lane took the unborn fetus to the same hospital, claiming to have had a miscarriage. The baby girl, who Wilkins had planned on naming Aurora, sadly did not survive. Lane was later arrested on charges of attempted first degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. She was sentenced to 100 years in prison.
6 Thought To Be Dead
In December of 1997, a woman by the name of Carolyn Correa, broke into her cousin Luzaida Cuevas’ home, and stole her ten day old baby out of her bedroom. She took baby Delimar, and then set a fire to cover her tracks. The firemen told Cuevas that there were no remains of her baby girl’s body because it had been so consumed by the fire.
Correa had a difficult time believing her child had perished. She had run into the room, through the smoke, to get her daughter out, but the crib was empty. She also recalled the bedroom window being open, which didn’t make sense to her given the freezing cold temperature outside that night. Correa even screamed to the firemen that she thought her baby had been stolen, but they believed it was her nerves making her hysterical. As it was, no death certificate was ever issued because baby Delimar’s body was never found. Because of the high cost of opening an investigation, Curevas did not pursue the possible kidnapping, but always lived with the feeling that her baby was alive.
Leaving everyone to believe the baby girl had perished in the fire; Correa moved across the state line and pretended the baby was her own daughter. She sent her to private school, and had plans of her becoming an actress and beauty pageant princess.
At a birthday party, six years later, Correa looked into the face of a child that matched her own. She knew in her heart that she was her daughter. She called her over under the pretense that she wanted to help get gum out of her hair, and pulled a few strands out to send in for DNA testing.
Her instinct was correct when the DNA results came back confirming that the child was indeed Correa’s daughter. Cuevas was charged with kidnapping, arson, and other charges, and mother and daughter were finally reunited.
5 Devious Plan
Maritza Rentz’s announcement of her pregnancy to her husband saved her from heading towards a third divorce. When she aborted the child on her doctor’s advice, she hid it from her husband. She pretended she was pregnant while he was home by stuffing pillows under her dress, and never letting her husband see her naked. She also had an attorney contact the hospital where her abortion was performed, to ensure her husband would not know about the procedure.
About the time Rentz would have been nine months pregnant, she answered an ad looking for a baby sitter. She interviewed with the baby’s grandmother, and while the grandmother left the room to answer a phone call, Rentz took the baby girl, Rachael, and left the house. She returned home, later telling her husband that she had gone to the hospital, given birth, and returned home with their newborn.
The real mother of the infant, Cora Abbott, returned home to find her daughter missing, and a nationwide plea for help was issued. Police received a call from a man who had had seen the Rentz’s new baby, and said she looked to be several weeks old, and not a newborn as they claimed. The police arrived at the home to question the couple, and found baby Rachael, along with a fake birth certificate and the clothes she was wearing when kidnapped. They also secured a map with the neighborhood that the Abbotts lived in circled.
4 Prayers For Savannah
Jessie and Tom Nolf had attended an 11 a.m. church service on a typical Sunday morning. They left their eleven month old baby, Savannah, in the church nursery. During the service, the couple was called back by officials to be told they could not find their daughter. Disbelief quickly turned into fear when a search of the church found no baby.
The police were called and surveillance video showed Reid, a volunteer, leaving the church while holding the almost one year old baby girl. Police then went to Reid’s home, and found the baby in different clothes with her hair pulled up. Reid admitted to abducting the baby from the church, and Savannah was returned to her parents.
Police later learned that before abducting the Nolf baby, Reid had been spotted at two different churches, pretending to be a nursery attendant. Reid told the police she had always wanted to be a mom, and that led her to do what she did.
3 A Young Mother's Nightmare
A 16 year old mother was walking along a San Diego street with her 2 month old baby, and struck up a conversation with another woman who said she worked at a college child development center. The woman, Talia Gone, told the young mother that the center had a program designed to help young moms, such as her, receive an education. Gone encouraged the mom to get some papers to enroll in the program, and said she would take her baby to the child development center to wait for her.
When the mother arrived at the center, she realized her baby had been kidnapped. She called the police, and a search began. An officer walking through a trolley station recognized the baby and the stroller and took the suspect into custody. Gone was charged with kidnapping, child abduction, and child endangerment. The two month old baby was unharmed and later returned to her mother.
2 Act Of Misery
Stephenie Ochsenbine, a 21-year-old new mother, was in her rural home with her infant, when a woman entered with a knife. The stranger, Shannon Beck, slashed Ochsenbine’s throat with the knife, and took off with the week-old infant. Ochsenbine survived, calling the police to report the attack and kidnapping.
It appeared that earlier the same day, Beck apparently had a miscarriage, ending her full-term pregnancy. Acting out of grief and misery, she abducted Ochsenbine’s infant and tried to pass it off as her own. Beck’s sister-in -law grew suspicious of Beck and her child when she noticed make up on the baby’s head. She rubbed the make-up off, revealing a strawberry birthmark. The birthmark matched the description given in a missing persons bulletin released by authorities earlier. She called the police, and Beck was arrested.
The baby girl was returned to her mom, healthy and safe.
1 Saanvi's Story
Raghunandan “Raghu” Yandamuri, a family friend to Venkata Venna’s and her husband, planned to kidnap the Venna's 1 year old baby, Saanvi, and hold her for a $50,000 ransom. The kidnapping went awry, however as the child’s paternal grandmother fought off Raghu. During the scuffle, Raghu dropped the infant while using a knife to fight off the grandmother. After fatally stabbing the grandmother, he picked up the infant who had begun to cry. Raghu stuffed a handkerchief in the baby’s mouth to stop the cries, and tied a bath towel around her head to hold it in place. He then put the infant in a suitcase, along with some jewelry he found, and walked out of the apartment. Before leaving the building, he placed the suitcase with Saanvi’s body in the steam room of the gym within the apartment complex.
Raghu later sent a ransom note to the parents, and the nicknames he used in the note ultimately led to his capture. Authorities sadly found baby Saanvi's deceased body beneath a bench in the sauna of the victim’s apartment building. He had covered her with a bloody white dress. Raghu was charged with two counts of murder, kidnapping, robbery, along with other charges.