The Associated Press
LUBBOCK — A newborn kidnapped from a Lubbock hospital by a woman wearing hospital scrubs and a hooded jacket was found safe Sunday in New Mexico and returned to her mother.
Four-day-old Mychael Darthard-Dawodu was found in a home in Clovis by police following up on tips, a day after she was taken from Covenant Lakeside Hospital.
“It’s a joyous time,” Gwen Stafford, senior vice president of Covenant Health System, said at a news conference Sunday. “This has been a roller coaster of emotions. Today there’s not many happy stories; this is certainly one in Lubbock, Texas.”
Rayshaun Parson, 21, of Clovis, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping 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.
Phone numbers at Parson’s address were disconnected Sunday.
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.
The infant was kidnapped early Saturday by a woman posing as a medical worker who walked out of Covenant Lakeside with the 5-pound baby hidden in her purse, police said.
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.
Will Larson, who moved to Clovis recently and lives near Parson’s home, said he told police that he had seen her before without a baby but noticed her with a stroller on Saturday and thought that was unusual.
An extradition hearing was scheduled for Monday in Clovis.
Parson has had dealings with the law before. In May 2004, a protective order was issued against her in a domestic violence incident involving a boyfriend, according to New Mexico online court documents. A call to him was not immediately returned Sunday.
In January 2005, she was charged with fraud, according to the online court documents. Information about the disposition of the case was unavailable Sunday.
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.