PITTSBURGH (AP) — A 19-year-old woman who falsely claimed to be pregnant was arraigned Friday on charges she kidnapped a 3-day-old infant from a hospital after pretending to be a nurse and sneaking the baby boy out inside a zippered handbag, police said.
The newborn was found with the kidnapping suspect, Breona Moore, of McKeesport, at about 6 p.m. Thursday and was reunited with his parents unharmed at Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC.
Online court records don't list an attorney for Moore, who was arraigned on charges she kidnapped Bryce Coleman on Thursday. She remained jailed unable to post $250,000 bond and was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation.
Moore quickly became a suspect in the Thursday afternoon kidnapping because her family contacted police after hearing media reports to say Moore had told them and made Facebook posts that she was pregnant, Police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said. Moore's build apparently made her claims at least somewhat credible, as a criminal complaint lists her at 5-foot-4 and 230 pounds, but Stangrecki said her family and friends doubted her enough to call police as soon as they heard of the kidnapping.
Moore told police "she had convinced people that she was pregnant and told people she had just had a baby," according to a criminal complaint. She also had claimed to have a C-section on Monday and that the baby would be released on Thursday because he was sick and needed additional care, police said.
Moore had posted the message, "Ooh My I Just Wanna Give Him So Much Love" on Facebook after previously posting pictures of herself, supposedly pregnant, as well as ultrasound images in recent months.
Asked to comment, Moore told reporters as police led her away in handcuffs Thursday night, "I hurt one person's feelings that I loved" — an apparent reference to her boyfriend, Saevon Josey, 19.
The Associated Press could not immediately locate Josey, but he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Moore claimed to be pregnant when he tried to break up with her in December.
Josey believed Moore, quit school, got a job, took parenting classes and even shopped for baby clothes. When Josey was told she had given birth, he pressed Moore for details until she met him at the downtown building where she showed him the baby about 30 minutes before her arrest.
"I went through so much stuff because of her lies," Josey told the Post-Gazette.
UPMC officials said in a statement that they're cooperating with police and "will be reviewing this event to see what improvements could be made in our security procedures."
Police gave the following account in the criminal complaint:
Moore, wearing hospital scrubs she bought from a store nearby, entered the hospital Thursday and was seen loitering by one employee. The worker noticed she didn't have an identification badge and asked Moore whether she was coming on duty or just leaving. Moore told that employee she was getting off duty.
When another employee saw Moore near the baby's mother's room, Moore pretended to be the sister of the baby's mother, Rhonda King, and that she was waiting to drive her sister home.
After the other employee left, Moore followed a discharge nurse into King's room and appeared to the baby's family to be a nurse's aide.
The discharge nurse removed the security wristbands from King and the baby, who were preparing to leave the hospital, then left. That's when "Moore approached King and took the baby from King and told her that one more physical test needed to be conducted on the baby and that she would return Bryce right away."
Instead, Moore went to a secluded area, put the baby in a red zippered cloth handbag and left the hospital. She quickly moved away from the hospital when she heard police sirens.
Officers later found Moore hiding in a closet with the baby, and she was arrested.
She was charged with kidnapping, concealing the whereabouts of a child, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, interference with custody of a child, reckless endangerment and falsely impersonating a nurse.