- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 29, 2001

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) A 16-month-old girl who was snatched from a Chicago bus station by a stranger on Christmas Eve was reunited with her mother yesterday.
Marcella Anderson arrived at Yeager Airport from Chicago aboard an FBI jet and got off the plane carrying a teddy bear for her daughter, Jasmine. The reunion took place at the airport in private.
The little girl was found apparently unharmed on Thursday in West Virginia, and the woman accused of kidnapping her and pretending the child was her own was arrested on a tip from her boyfriend's mother.
Sheila Matthews, who gave her age as 35, appeared in federal court in Charleston, W.Va., earlier yesterday on kidnapping charges. She faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 3 in Charleston. She faces a potential sentence of life in prison or death if convicted.
Jasmine arrived at the airport wearing a blue FBI hat and was accompanied by state troopers and a social worker. Gov. Bob Wise gave her a purple teddy bear with a big green bow.
"She's a healthy 16-month-old, inquisitive. She's excited," Mr. Wise said.
FBI Agent Joe Ciccarelli said, "She's in great spirits." She had a bag full of toys, he said.
About a half-hour after their reunion, Miss Anderson carried Jasmine onto the plane for the trip back to Chicago.
Police said Miss Matthews had falsely told her boyfriend that she had given birth while he was in prison. When the boyfriend was released from prison, she told him her mother was caring for the baby in Chicago, police said.
Miss Matthews went to the Chicago bus station on Monday night, looking to abduct a child, police said.
Miss Anderson said she and her two daughters were waiting there for a bus home to Milwaukee when a woman with a tattoo on her neck offered to give them a ride. The woman offered to hold Jasmine while Miss Anderson took her other daughter, 3-year-old Alicia, to refund her bus tickets. Miss Anderson said she was waiting in line when the woman disappeared with the toddler. According to police, Miss Matthews and her boyfriend took the toddler to the house of one of his relatives in a Chicago suburb on Christmas Day. On Wednesday, the couple traveled with Jasmine to West Virginia.
But their hosts spotted a photograph of Jasmine on television and called police.
Officials said Miss Matthews has the word "Leo" tattooed on one side of her neck and "Aquarius" on the other. The boyfriend, Dewallis Cortez Harris, was questioned and released.
Miss Matthews pleaded guilty in 1988 to kidnapping in Washington state, Officer Alice Casanova, a Chicago police spokeswoman, said yesterday. She abducted a 21/2-year-old girl from her parents in Seattle in 1987. The child was found unharmed about a month later. Miss Matthews was sentenced to 5 1/2 months in jail.
A nationwide search led authorities to the home in Williamson, where Miss Matthews had taken Jasmine, the FBI said. Miss Matthews was holding the girl when officers broke in, according to state Trooper S.T. Harper.

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