- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 3, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn. | The search for a Tennessee newborn whose mother says was kidnapped by a woman posing as an immigration agent entered its fourth day Friday, and a missing child expert said similar ploys have been used in other abductions.

Yair Anthony Carillo was taken from his home Tuesday, just four days after he was born to 30-year-old Maria Gurrolla. She says a heavyset white woman with blonde hair arrived at her home posing as an immigration agent, attacked her with a knife, then took the boy.

Cathy Nahirny, a senior analyst for infant abduction cases at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said there have been at least two other recent cases where an abductor used the same ploy.

“We need to get the word out to our immigrant communities,” Miss Nahirny said. “Anybody that claims they are from federal law enforcement agencies, you have the right and you should ask for photo identification.”

In March, Amalia Tabata Pereira was accused of taking a 2-month-old girl from a woman at a health clinic in Plant City, Fla., east of Tampa. Police said she told the baby’s parents she was an immigration official and that they were going to be deported.

She was arrested a day later and turned the baby over to authorities.

Miss Nahirny said immigrant families have been targets of child abductions because of the assumption they will not tell police.

Miss Gurrolla’s immigration status isn’t clear. She was stabbed several times in the neck and chest and was released from the hospital Thursday.

Miss Nahirny said the profile of an infant abductor is typically a woman who may be married or living with someone and may be faking a pregnancy in a desperate attempt to improve her relationship.

Up until the 1990s, most infant abductions occurred in hospitals, but with improved security in maternity wards, it has become more common for infants to be abducted from homes, she said.

“When an incident like this happens in the home setting, the chance of violence increases,” she said. About 30 percent of the time, that violence is directed at the mother.

Miss Nahirny said abductors have also impersonated health care or social services workers to gain access to homes or visited health care facilities to find new mothers to target.

In 2005, the Nashville mother of a newborn and her 3-year-old daughter were killed by a woman trying to steal the baby after finding the family through a food stamp office.

Abductors can also use birth announcements or lawn signs that indicate a baby has been born recently to find victims. Miss Nahirny said the risk was small but parents should be aware. There was a sign at Miss Gurrolla’s home, but police hadn’t yet determined if the abduction was related to it.

Typically the abductor does not harm the infant.

“In their mind, that’s their baby now,” she said.

While most infant abduction cases are solved quickly and the babies are safely recovered, Miss Nahirny said public assistance is crucial to the investigation.

“We need people to step up,” she said. “An investigation runs cold if they are not getting new information to follow up on.”

Police say they are getting tips and leads every hour, but concern for the baby’s safety grows with each passing day.

“We don’t know that the person who took the child knows how to take care of an infant,” said police spokesman Don Aaron.

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