PITTSBURGH - A 19-year-old woman who falsely claimed to be pregnant was arraigned Friday on charges she kidnapped a 3-day-old infant from a hospital after pretending to be a nurse and sneaking the baby boy out of the facility inside a zippered handbag, police said.
The newborn was found with the kidnapping suspect, Breona Moore, of McKeesport, about 6 p.m. Thursday and was reunited with his parents unharmed at Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC.
Online court records don't list an attorney for Moore, who was arraigned by video from the Allegheny County Jail on charges she kidnapped little Bryce Coleman on Thursday. She remained jailed unable to post $250,000 bond and was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation by a city court judge.
Police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said Moore quickly became a suspect after the baby's kidnapping early Thursday afternoon. That's because Moore's family contacted police after hearing media reports to say Moore had told them and made Facebook posts that she was pregnant. Moore's build apparently made her claims at least somewhat credible, as a criminal complaint lists her at 5-foot-4 and 230 pounds, but Stangrecki said her family doubted the claims enough to call police as soon as they heard of the kidnapping.
According to a criminal complaint, Moore told police after her arrest that "she had convinced people that she was pregnant and told people she had just had a baby." Moore had claimed to have a C-section on Monday and that the baby would be released on Thursday because he was sick and needed additional care.
Moore had posted the message, "Ooh My I Just Wanna Give Him So Much Love" on Facebook after previously posting pictures of herself, supposedly pregnant, as well as ultrasound images in recent months.
UPMC officials said in a statement that they're cooperating with police and "will be reviewing this event to see what improvements could be made in our security procedures."
Moore, wearing hospital scrubs she bought from a store nearby, entered the hospital Thursday and was seen loitering by one employee who noticed she didn't have an identification badge and asked Moore whether she was coming on duty or just leaving. Moore told that employee she was getting off duty, the police complaint said.
When another employee saw Moore near the baby's mother's room, Moore pretended to be the sister of the baby's mother, Rhonda King, and that she was waiting to drive her sister home. After the other employee left, however, Moore followed a discharge nurse into King's room and appeared to the baby's family to be a nurse's aide.
The discharge nurse removed the security wristbands from King and the baby, who were preparing to leave the hospital, then left. That's when, police said, "Moore approached King and took the baby from King and told her that one more physical test needed to be conducted on the baby and that she would return Bryce right away."
Instead, Moore went to a secluded area of the hospital and put the baby in a red zippered cloth handbag and left the hospital.
Police later learned that Moore left the area outside the hospital quickly when she heard police sirens, and police quickly learned Moore had entered a downtown building with the baby, though police haven't said how they learned that. Moore was found hiding in a closet with the baby and arrested.
Moore has been charged with kidnapping, concealing the whereabouts of a child, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, interference with custody of a child, reckless endangerment and falsely impersonating a nurse.