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Kidnapped infant found

LUBBOCK, Texas ” A newborn kidnapped from a Lubbock hospital was found safe in a New Mexico home on Sunday, police said.

The infant had been kidnapped early Saturday by a woman posing as a medical worker, who walked out of Covenant Lakeside Hospital in Lubbock with the 5-pound baby hidden in her purse, police said.

On Sunday, 4-day-old Mychael Darthard-Dawodu was put on a plane from Clovis, N.M., to Lubbock to be reunited with her mother, said Gwen Stafford, senior vice president of Covenant Health System.

“It’s a joyous time,” Stafford said at a news conference. “This has been a roller coaster of emotions.”

Mychael had been checked at Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis and was found to be in good condition, Clovis police Lt. James Schoeffel said.

A 21-year-old woman was in custody and being questioned Sunday in Clovis by Lubbock and FBI investigators, authorities said. She was expected to be arrested on a Texas warrant alleging aggravated kidnapping, and federal charges also could be pursued, Lubbock police Lt. Scott Hudgens said. An extradition hearing was likely in a couple of days, he said.

Stafford said the suspect was not believed to be an employee at Covenant. However, she said Mychael was taken by someone who “was pretty sophisticated” or at least had knowledge of hospital security procedures.

Law enforcement officials had received information from more than one source that the baby was in Clovis, about 100 miles northwest of Lubbock, said FBI spokeswoman Lori Bailey in Dallas. Bailey declined to elaborate because the investigation was continuing.

Police in Clovis conducted surveillance on an area pinpointed by at least one of the tips and found the baby in a home with an adult female early Sunday, Hudgens said. The suspect was found at another residence in Clovis, he said.

Hospital surveillance footage showed a woman wearing blue and flower-print hospital scrubs and a gray, puffy jacket with a hood walking out of the hospital around 1:20 a.m. Saturday. She fled in a red pickup truck, possibly with a male accomplice, police said.

The abductor had gone into Mychael’s mother’s room several times before the baby was taken, telling her the baby needed tests, Stafford said.

Newborns at Covenant are tagged with a security bracelet, said Stafford, who did not give details on how the bracelet worked.

“As soon as the baby and this security piece were separated we were alarmed and knew,” Stafford said. “That’s what enabled us to be able to get the visual of the pickup.”

“Clearly we need to take security to a higher standard,” she said. “We’re not going to rest until we take it up a notch, another level. I don’t know that we can ever have anything perfect.”

Susanne Moore, a former Covenant nurse who had a baby Friday at the same hospital, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that the hospital placed an electronic band on her newborn girl’s ankle. She said she was told that if the baby were taken too close to a door or elevator, a sensor would cause the door to lock or the elevator to shut down.

Moore said she also was told that if the band were cut off before it was deactivated, the hospital would be locked down.


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