- The Washington Times - Monday, July 1, 2002

MIAMI (AP) The woman with the open umbrella surprised Myrtho Jean-Louis with kindness as she helped his fiancee and 6-month-old son through the rain and into the hospital clinic for the boy's checkup.
Several hours later, the same woman, looking disheveled and grim, appeared on television as she stood before a judge, accused of shooting Mr. Jean-Louis' fiancee and kidnapping his son.
"She came out of nowhere," Mr. Jean-Louis said. "After I left Ronnie at the hospital, she must have followed her and gotten buddy-buddy with her."
Ronnie Holton died Saturday, three days after she was found on the side of a road with a gunshot wound to her head. The baby was found unharmed in a Fort Myers apartment, about 120 miles away.
Police said Jennifer Irene Graves befriended Miss Holton at the hospital and then killed her because she wanted a child of her own.
"We're totally devastated by this," said William Graves, the suspect's stepfather.
In the months before her arrest, Miss Graves went to extremes to lie to her boyfriend and parents about being pregnant and having a baby, he said.
Miss Graves moved to Fort Myers about four years ago with Eli Williams, whom she met while taking classes at a community college in New York City, Mr. Graves said.
In September, Miss Graves called her mother, Greta, and stepfather in New York to say she was three months pregnant. In January, she sent a handmade card with a sonogram image.
Miss Graves called weeks later to say she had given birth to a boy; she promised to send pictures, but never did, Mr. Graves said. They began to believe the baby didn't exist, he said.
Last week, Miss Graves' boyfriend called. Mr. Williams had not seen the child either and thought the baby had been staying with them in New York, Mr. Graves said.
Miss Graves' parents took the sonogram out of its handmade frame and noticed the date on the bottom: 1980.
"I don't know what the proper psychological term is, but she concocted this whole phantom baby thing," Mr. Graves said. Mr. Williams did not return repeated phone calls for comment.
Jennifer Graves went to the pediatric clinic at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital on Wednesday, apparently hunting for a child to take home, police spokesman Lt. Bill Schwartz said.
"It has the feel that Graves was on the hunt, trolling for a child," Lt. Schwartz said.
Miss Graves was carrying Jeremiah when she returned to Fort Myers, police said. She told neighbors she had given birth to the boy two months ago, police said. She has been charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping and is jailed in Lee County pending transfer to Miami.
Mr. Jean-Louis lamented his son would grow up without the love of his mother, whom he described as a kind, caring woman.
"Ronnie was the type of person that when you met her, you can't forget because she gave her all and held nothing back," he said.


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