- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2007

CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) - For years, one thing had controlled Rayshaun Parson’s dreams, behavior and sometimes even her body, those who know her say a baby of her own.

It was an obsession that some say included a so-called phantom pregnancy a rare medical phenomenon in which women who aren’t pregnant experience physical and emotional changes similar to those of expectant mothers. It continued through two miscarriages and a difficult breakup with a boyfriend.

Finally, police say, Miss Parson posing as a hospital worker snatched a newborn girl from a maternity ward in Lubbock, Texas, placed Mychael Darthard-Dawodu in a handbag and fled on March 10.

She and the baby, who was unharmed, were found the next day in Clovis, about 100 miles from Lubbock.

Miss Parson, 21, was being held without bail on federal kidnapping charges. She has not entered a plea.

She has not spoken publicly about the accusations, but court documents reviewed by the Associated Press and interviews with people who knew her suggest a troubled young woman whose love of children and motherly ambitions had grown into a compulsion.

Conchita Davis, the mother of Miss Parson’s former boyfriend, Malachi Johnson, recalled the changes Miss Parson underwent in 2002 when she was mistakenly thought to be pregnant with what would have been Mrs. Davis’ grandchild. Miss Parson’s breasts swelled, her abdomen distended, and she experienced cravings common to pregnancy.

“Rayshaun wanted the baby so bad that she got the symptoms,” Mrs. Davis said. “She was the perfect vision of a pregnant woman.”

False pregnancies also known as pseudocyesis are usually linked to underlying emotional and psychological issues, said Dr. Cornelia DeRiese, an assistant professor in Texas Tech University’s department of obstetrics and gynecology. More common centuries ago, she said it is rarely seen in an era of modern medicine that includes early neonatal care, ultrasound tests and over-the-counter home pregnancy-test kits.

Ann Parson remembers her granddaughter watching longingly as friends gave birth and raised their babies, wishing she, too, could be a mother.

In 2004, Miss Parson suffered another emotional setback when Mrs. Davis’ son decided to leave to pursue a music career in California. Unable to accept the breakup, Miss Parson pursued the young man until a court issued a protective order requiring her to stay away from him.

Miss Parson did become pregnant after that by another man but suffered her second miscarriage.

Last week at the small house Miss Parson recently leased in Clovis, the front door window was covered by a makeshift curtain adorned with multicolored pairs of infant footprints.

Said property manager Carolyn Spence: “We were told there was supposed to be a child there.”

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