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A relieved mother in Quebec expressed thanks Tuesday after her abducted newborn baby was tracked down in three hours thanks to four strangers responding to an appeal on Facebook.
Authorities in Trois-Rivieres, Canada, issued an amber alert late Monday after a young woman disguised as a nurse walked into a hospital maternity ward and took Melissa McMahon’s day–old daughter Victoria.
A description of the suspect’s car was quickly issued by Quebec’s police force, the Surete du Quebec, and shared on social media.
In a desperate Facebook post, the baby’s father, Simon Boisclair, pleaded for friends to spread the description of the vehicle. “Help us please, after one day our daughter has been stolen,” he wrote.
“We were on Facebook,” Charlene Plante told Canada’s CTV channel. “We just wanted to do something for the night, so we went out to find the car.”
Another one of the four, Sharelle Bergeron, told the Globe and Mail newspaper: “It’s a pretty rare thing that something that exciting happens in Trois-Rivières.”
The breakthrough for the four amateur sleuths came when police circulated a hospital surveillance video picture of the suspect disguised in a nursing uniform. Plante recognized the 21-year-old suspect as a high school acquaintance and former neighbor.
The group headed to the suspect’s apartment and alerted police after seeing a vehicle matching the earlier description parked outside, the National Post reported.
The exact moment when an officer entered the building and removed the missing infant was recorded by the group on cellphone video and posted to Facebook by Bergeron's sister, Melizanne. The infant's entire ordeal lasted just over three hours.
In an emotional post on the site Tuesday, McMahon expressed her gratitude to the authorities and everyone who had helped find her daughter, who she said was “aptly named for this victory.”
“Four wonderful people, who we had the chance to meet, identified the woman through Facebook,” she wrote in French. “This is the reason why Victoria is in my arms right now.”
She added that every click and share on Facebook had “made the difference.”
“You have to give credit to these young people,” Quebec state premier Philippe Couillard said, according to the Globe and Mail. “They showed a lot of initiative.”