Charges filed in Calif. hospital baby abduction

August 8, 2012 - 7:35 PM
Hospital Baby Theft

In this photo provided by the Garden Grove, Calif., police, Grisel Ramirez, 48, is seen in custody Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, after she was caught trying to steal a newborn girl from a Southern California hospital in a tote bag after sensors attached to the baby alerted employees, Garden Grove police said. Ramirez was arrested Monday at Garden Grove Medical Center after a hospital staffer stopped her from leaving with the baby. (AP Photo/Garden Grove Police)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A woman who allegedly tried to steal a newborn baby from a California hospital after faking a pregnancy will face charges of kidnapping and five felony counts of first-degree burglary, prosecutors said Wednesday.

An arraignment for Grisel Ramirez, 48, of Garden Grove, was pushed back to Aug. 31 and she will be held on $1 million bail, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

If convicted, she faces up to 19 years and eight months in state prison.

Ramirez posed as a visitor to enter Garden Grove Medical Center, where she attempted to abduct a baby Monday, Darden Grove police Lt. Jeff Nightengale said Tuesday.

Her estranged husband had no idea she wasn't pregnant.

"She perpetuated this myth for several months, and they don't live together and don't see each other, so the husband totally believed it," Nightengale said.

When the due date passed, Ramirez's husband pressed her to meet the child and asked whether he needed to sign the birth certificate, police said.

"We interviewed him last night and he for sure thought he was the father of a baby girl," Nightengale said. "He was upset and devastated that it wasn't true."

Ramirez, a waitress, may have approached other pregnant women and asked about their due dates and their baby's gender at another Southern California hospital last month, police said.

One woman grew suspicious of the questions and told staff at Western Medical Center-Anaheim.

There was no surveillance video available at the hospital, so police conducted a photo lineup for the people who witnessed the woman's strange activity July 26. They identified Ramirez as the inquisitive lurker, police said.

Garden Grove Medical Center Director Sofia Abrina said Tuesday that Ramirez presented herself as a visitor who wanted to see a patient when she entered the hospital Monday.

Abrina said a sensor attached to a bracelet around the baby's ankle set off alarms, and the staff began searching and counting patients until Ramirez was apprehended.

Ramirez is accused of entering the room of the baby's mother and posing as a nurse who told the woman to shower before a doctor came to examine her. Police said that once the baby's mother was out of the room, Ramirez put the newborn in a purple tie-dyed tote bag and tried to carry her out of the ward.

Many hospital wards have security systems where patients, such as newborns or those with Alzheimer's disease, are tagged with an electronic sensor — usually in a bracelet or anklet — that sets off an alarm when the patient leaves a certain perimeter.

The baby wasn't harmed during the short time she was in the tote and was returned to her mother.

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Shaya Tayefe Mohajer can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APShaya .