- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2000

A Riverdale, Md., woman whose children were driven away by a car thief yesterday afternoon had her daughters one of them a month-old infant back in her arms within hours.

Police were looking for the car thief last night after he left the girls on the front lawn of a home in nearby Chillum, Md., where they were found by Marie Barrett.

"As soon as I saw the two girls out there, I knew something was wrong," said Mrs. Barrett. "I went over to talk to them, and [Elsie] said, 'I want my mommie, I want some water and I have to use the bathroom.' "

Mrs. Barrett called police, who soon reunited the children with their mother.

Fidelina Herrera, the frantic mother, had left the engine running to her champagne-colored 1998 GMC Suburban when she decided to duck into a grocery store in the 3000 block of Hamilton Street just before 10 a.m.

When she came out of the store, her 7-year-old daughter, Eloisa, was on the sidewalk crying, and she saw her Suburban being driven away by a man who had ordered Eloisa out of the car.

Mrs. Herrera's other two daughters, Elsie, 4, and Kelly Bautista, 1 month, were in the back seat.

Two hours later, the girls were found unharmed in the 5400 block of 20th Place in Chillum, about a mile away.

D.C. police found the Suburban last night in the 2000 block of 13th Street NW but not the man who took it.

Police described the car thief as a 6-foot-tall, slender, black man in his 40s. He was wearing a purple baseball hat and T-shirt and blue jeans.

The two-hour ordeal began when Mrs. Herrera stopped at El Compadre grocery store in Hyattsville, Md.

"She ran in the store and left her car running, and when she came back she saw it driving away," said Lt. Stephen Walker of the Hyattsville police. "Her [oldest] daughter was sitting on the curb."

Police believe the man was leaving a liquor store, saw the car running and got in. He ordered Eloisa onto the sidewalk and drove off.

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