LINTHICUM, Md. — A young mother arrived on a flight from Missouri yesterday, shedding tears and clutching her toddler, whom authorities said was taken from her home 16 months ago by her boyfriend, a Mexican national.
“My grandma told me we would never find him,” said Crystal Debrodie, of Jefferson City, Mo., upon being reunited with son Abraham Felipe Monroy, 2, at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Authorities say Felipe Monroy, of Hyattsville, took the child Sept. 17, 2005. Mr. Monroy was charged with parental kidnapping and was being held in a Prince George’s County jail. State police on Monday arrested Mr. Monroy at his most recent residence, in Riverdale.
Miss Debrodie said Mr. Monroy is not the child’s biological father and is an illegal alien. Police could not confirm whether Mr. Monroy was the father or his immigration status.
Miss Debrodie’s big break came in October when Prince George’s County resident Nicole Baldwin became suspicious of the new child and father, who continued to change his story on the whereabouts of the boy’s mother.
“I couldn’t be away from my child that long,” said Mrs. Baldwin, 29, who then began searching the Internet for clues. “My heart told me I had to find [the mother of] this child. If I’m an overprotective mother, that’s what I’ll be.”
She eventually found a picture of the boy on the Web site for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
“I knew it was him,” said Mrs. Baldwin, who was at the reunion and also has children.
Abraham clutched a tan, wool teddy bear but showed no emotion upon reuniting with his mother.
“I thought he had gone to Mexico,” said Miss Debrodie, who started crying again when she said her grandmother died last month. “My grandma is proud of me right now.”
Mrs. Baldwin said she saw Mr. Monroy and the boy in a red car. She wrote the car’s tag number on her hand, then called police.
With help from state police Sgt. Ron Riggin, authorities took the boy, who his mom nicknamed Dakota, into protective custody.
“Mrs. Baldwin and Sgt. Riggin have brought these happy results,” said the agency’s Sgt. Russell Newell, who arranged the reunion and for the boy to fly back to Missouri with his mother.
“This is good,” Sgt. Riggin said. “There are a lot of bittersweet endings in these cases.”
The reunion was postponed nearly two hours because social services workers were delayed in delivering the boy to the airport.
Miss Debrodie presented to her son the blue-and-pink baby blanket he carried with him while in Jefferson City.
“I asked him if he wanted to go to the house and he said ‘Yes,’ ” Miss Debrodie said. “He wanted to go home. We’re going to have a welcome-home party tonight. …I’ve never been in Maryland before. I want to go back home.”
Miss Debrodie said she also has two daughters, including 3-month-old Gicana, whom the boy has never seen.
While Miss Debrodie was awaiting the arrival of her son, American Airlines official Nicole Summann heard her say the trip home would end late last night because they would have to wait in Chicago for a flight to St. Louis. So Mrs. Summann arranged for an earlier flight directly to St. Louis from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
“It was the thing to do,” she said.