Late last week, Stephanie Lynn Anderson Jones told the manager of her mobile home park that she had just had a baby — news that came as a surprise to the manager.
“I said, ‘I didn’t even know you were pregnant.’ She said it was a small baby,” recalled Kloma Clark.
On Tuesday, Jones, 33, was arraigned on kidnapping and child endangerment charges, accused of snatching a newborn from her mother over the weekend.
The baby, Priscilla Nicole Maldonado, now 6 days old, was discovered Monday in a car seat abandoned beneath a condominium carport in 104-degree heat. A tip had led authorities to Jones, and Jones led them to the baby in the carport less than four miles from the mobile home park, police said.
Jones was jailed on $150,000 bail. Her attorney, Jack Stoffregen, would not comment on the charges. No one answered the door at the Jones home.
‘I didn’t want to let go’
The baby was in stable condition Tuesday, University Medical Center spokesman Greg Bruce said. She was born with jaundice, a common complication in newborns that causes a yellowing of the skin because of a buildup of pigment in the blood. The condition is easily treatable.
The newborn’s mother, Erica Ysasaga, was not letting Priscilla out of her sight.
“The doctors wanted to check her, and I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to stop hugging and kissing her,” Ysasaga said at the hospital where mother and child were reunited Monday night.
Posing as a nurse
The terrifying saga started shortly after Priscilla was born last week.
A woman in hospital scrubs began visiting the mother’s hospital room, asking questions about Priscilla and then offering to drop by their home with a swing and some baby clothes, Ysasaga told police.
Police said that the woman was only posing as a nurse, and that when she visited Ysasaga’s home on Sunday, she fled with the newborn while Ysasaga was momentarily distracted by her 2-year-old son.
Clark, the mobile home park manager, said the conversation with Jones occurred Friday, two days before the abduction.
“I told her point blank, ‘You don’t look like you just had a baby,”’ Clark said. “I should have been suspicious, but I wasn’t. I guess I trust everybody.”
Clark said that she often saw Jones wearing medical scrubs and that Jones had told her she worked at a hospital.
“She’s back into our hands. Everybody’s happy,” said Jesse Madrid, the baby’s great-uncle. “We couldn’t have asked for more.”
The abduction occurred less than a year after Ysasaga’s and Jesse Maldonado’s 2-month-old daughter, Faith Esperanza Maldonado, choked to death. Police ruled out foul play in the baby’s death.
Lt. Roy Bassett said police rescued the child after a caller suggested they contact a man in Lubbock. Police called the man and asked if his wife had recently had a baby. The man said she had, but his answers had “obvious flaws,” Bassett said.
Jones, 33, was being held on kidnapping charges. Detectives were questioning her and her husband.
Jones closely matched the description the baby’s family had provided of the woman who had visited them several times in the hospital last week and disappeared with their daughter Sunday after mother and child had gone home, Bassett said.
Police Chief Claude Jones said she led officers to the baby.
Earlier Monday, police had studied hospital surveillance video and went door to door in a race to find the newborn and the woman who stole her.
The woman had apparently blended in with hospital staff in the days before the child’s disappearance and befriended the baby’s mother.
Nurses on duty at the time the woman visited the newborn and her family remembered seeing her on repeated visits to the hospital, police said. But no one asked why she was not wearing the correct color of scrubs or why she had no identification badge, officials said.