Suspect arrested, newborn safe in Reno hospital kidnapping
RENO (AP) – A woman who allegedly kidnapped a newborn baby from his mother’s Reno hospital room by posing as a nurse was arrested hours later Thursday when she showed up with the child at another hospital across town.
The infant born early Thursday morning was reunited with his mother and appeared to be healthy and unharmed, Reno Deputy Police Chief Jim Weston said.
Police still were searching for a male suspect in hospital scrub pants who might have been an accomplice in the abduction shortly before noon Thursday at Washoe Medical Center.
The suspected kidnapper was identified as Olga Lopez, 28, a former licensed daycare worker who lives in neighboring Sparks. Weston said she would be charged with kidnapping and burglary.
She had spent several hours at the medical center Thursday morning in an effort to ”fit in” before she told the baby’s mother it was time for more medical tests and wheeled him away in an incubator cart about 11:30 a.m., Weston said.
”Another 20 minutes after that, the mother became concerned because the child had not come back yet,” Weston said.
The 23-year-old mother alerted hospital officials who ”knew something was up” and telephoned police at 12:34 p.m, he said.
Police said late Thursday they had not yet questioned Lopez and her motive was not immediately clear.
Weston said she might have been familiar with hospital security measures because the baby’s computer-coded wrist band, which sets off alarms and locks doors, was found in a hospital stairwell.
A nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital recognized the woman and the baby – based on a police description issued to media – when they arrived there shortly after 2 p.m.
Lopez might have been seen at that hospital just north of the Reno casino district two or three weeks ago ”maybe trying the same thing and apparently was ejected from the hospital,” Weston said.
Lopez told officials at St. Mary’s that the boy was 4 days old, that she had just flown in from out of town and that she felt he needed some medical attention, he said.
”The nursing staff suspected something was up and notified police,” Weston said.
”We were able to identify through witnesses at Washoe Medical and from the mother, that this was indeed the woman and the child kidnapped from Washoe Medical Center,” he said.
Police arrested her at St. Mary’s after they found her hiding in a bathroom with the child, Weston said.
Police had described the female suspect in a media alert as being 5-foot-3, weighing more than 300 pounds and wearing purple spandex pants. She had shoulder-length brown hair and wore glasses.
”They said she matched the description to a ‘T’,” he said.
Officials at Washoe Medical Center had little to say about the abduction, other than that they were pleased and relieved the mother and baby were reuinted.
”A series of events occurred, including activation of the infant security system alarm, confirmation of the abduction and implementation of our infant abduction procedures,” said Rod Callahan, Washoe Medical Center’s executive vice president.
”The Reno Police Department was also immediately notified. We are unable to comment further,” he said.
Police were looking for the other suspect, described as a ”tall man with short brown hair” by the witnesses who saw him leaving the hospital with the woman and the baby, Weston said.
Lopez had previously been employed at the Child Garden and Children’s World day care centers. Her last daycare employment was Aug. 15, 2000, police said.
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.