Newborn Kidnapped From Texas Hospital Returned

Sunday, March 11th 2007, 1:30 pm
By: News On 6

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ Dressed in flower-print scrubs, the woman police suspect of kidnapping a newborn from a hospital looked like she belonged in the maternity ward. It was 100 miles away in her own town, pushing a stroller, where Rayshaun Parson stood out.

Police acting on tips found little Mychael Darthard-Dawodu and arrested the woman Sunday in Clovis, N.M. At least one neighbor said that he hadn't seen Parson with a baby before the child was abducted early Saturday.

A day after being taken from Covenant Lakeside Hospital in Lubbock, 4-day-old Mychael was rushed back to Texas _ and her mother's arms.

``This has been a roller coaster of emotions,'' Gwen Stafford, senior vice president of Covenant Health System, said at a news conference. ``Today there's not many happy stories; this is certainly one in Lubbock, Texas.''

Parson, 21, of Clovis, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping the four-day-old baby and jailed in Curry County, N.M., where she had been interviewed by Lubbock and FBI investigators, authorities said. Federal charges also could be pursued, Lubbock police Lt. Scott Hudgens said.

Police said Parson posed as a medical worker, even going into the Mychael's mother's hospital room and telling her that she needed tests. Authorities released few details about Parson, and didn't say why they believe the baby was taken.

The search began only seconds after the baby vanished. Newborns at Covenant are tagged with a security bracelet, Stafford said. Hospital video footage showed a woman, clad in scrubs and a gray, puffy hooded jacket, and police said she fled in a red pickup, possibly with a male accomplice.

``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.''

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.

Before being flown back to Texas and her parents, Caisha Darthard and Michael A. Dawodu, Mychael was checked at Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis and found to be in good condition, Clovis police Lt. James Schoeffel said. She had earlier been reported to be suffering from jaundice, a common complication in newborns in which a buildup of pigment in the blood causes a yellowing of the skin.

``We're ecstatic to be able to locate the child still in good health and to be able to reunite her with her mother,'' Hudgens said.

An extradition hearing was scheduled for Monday. Phone numbers at Parson's address had been disconnected Sunday, so relatives could not be reached for comment.

A neighbor, Will Larson, told The Associated Press he told police that he had seen her around before without a baby but noticed her with a stroller on Saturday and thought that was unusual.

The hospital did not detail how the electronic bracelets worked. But 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.

The hospital, meanwhile, acknowledged security needed to be tighter.

``Clearly we need to take security to a higher standard,'' Stafford 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.''