Police search for abductor and missing toddler; mother makes tearful plea for her return

Wednesday, December 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ Police combed the city on Wednesday for a 16-month-old girl who was allegedly taken from a bus station on Christmas Eve by a woman with a tattoo. The toddler's mother appealed for her safe return.

``All I can think about is her and her little face and not knowing where she's at or who she's with,'' Marcella Anderson said at a news conference Wednesday of her daughter, Jasmine.

At least 100 detectives have been working to find the girl, Detective Allen Jaglowski said. Police and the FBI had received numerous tips but none provided any solid information, police Officer Alice Casanova said.

Anderson said she and her two daughters _ Jasmine and 3-year-old Alicia _ were at the Greyhound bus station waiting for a bus home to Milwaukee after flying in from St. Louis, where she had visited a sister.

It was her first time traveling alone with her children and she was stressed. All three were tired and Alicia was restless.

``I needed help,'' Anderson, 21, said Wednesday.

She said a woman with a tattoo of a name or a word on her neck came up and offered to give them a ride to Milwaukee. Anderson said the woman, who said her name was Christine or Christina, suggested she hold Jasmine while Anderson cashed in her bus tickets.

``I probably should have said no,'' Anderson said. ``Because I know you can't trust everyone.''

Still, she said the woman ``had a warm, friendly face.''

``She just didn't seem like she could take a baby,'' Anderson said.

Anderson said that when she was waiting in line at the ticket counter she turned around and saw the woman walking away.

A man who earlier had helped Anderson with her luggage tried to chase them, but ``in a split second, they were gone,'' Officer Thomas Donegan said.

The children's father had been waiting for them in Milwaukee.

``I don't believe that anybody could try to do something that crazy on Christmas,'' the father, Greg Knowles, told WISN-TV in Milwaukee.

``We're hoping the woman will see the anguish of this mother and turn the child over,'' said Joe Gandurski, deputy chief of detectives. ``This touches every detective with a family. ... We want to have a happy ending to this.''