Four young Quebecers hailed as heroes for helping to locate abducted newborn
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, May 27, 2014 10:07AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 27, 2014 8:39PM EDT
Four young Quebec residents are being hailed as heroes after they helped police locate a newborn girl that was taken from a hospital maternity ward hours after she was born.
Police said the baby was abducted from the Ville-Marie hospital in Trois-Rivieres, Que., Monday night.
Officers released a photo of a suspect, a woman who was dressed as a nurse, and issued an amber alert at about 7 p.m. The alert was cancelled after the baby was safely located and returned to her parents within three hours.
Police said the suspect had driven away with in a red Toyota Yaris with a "baby on board" sticker.
After the suspect's photo began circulating on Facebook, four residents decided they would go out and look for the baby. Upon closer inspection of the photo, Charlene Plante said she thought she recognized the suspect, CTV Montreal's Rob Lurie reported from Trois-Rivieres.
It was an old neighbour, she said. “I know her because the police came sometimes.”
And Plante knew where she lived.
The group decided to drive to the woman's house. When they realized someone was home, they contacted police, who arrived minutes later. After breaking down the door, they were able to retrieve the baby and make an arrest, Lurie said.
Two members of the group told CTV Montreal that they were overwhelmed with emotion when they saw that officers had found the baby.
"When they came… they pushed the door off," Plante said. "The baby was fine. We were so happy."
Plante later told CTV News the four were already on the road before they’d even seen the picture of the suspect. It was after checking for updates on social media that the group was able to track down baby Victoria.
“If the media didn’t do what they did, I don’t think we would have found this baby yet,” she said.
Melizanne Bergeron said it's a moment she'll never forget.
"Thirty seconds after the baby was in the hands of the police … it was the best moment in my life. We were crying," she said.
Bergeron posted a video on Facebook of the young women crying as an officer emerged carrying a tiny, blanketed baby in his arms.
"An evening rich in emotions," she wrote in the video caption.
Meanwhile, the mother of the baby is giving thanks for the safe return of her daughter.
Early Tuesday morning, Melissa McMahon posted a note on Facebook thanking police, investigators and hospital staff for their work in helping to locate her daughter, Victoria.
She also thanked the media for helping to spread a photo of the suspect, and residents who shared the photo on social media.
McMahon gave special thanks to the four "marvellous" individuals who helped in the investigation.
"Four marvellous people, whom we had the chance to meet, identified this woman thanks to Facebook… We felt a huge amount of support from the public. This victory is for you, too!!!"
McMahon also described the horror she and her husband felt when they first realized what had happened.
"Yesterday, we experienced the worst moment of our lives, a feeling that no one should ever experience," she said in the Facebook post.
"It was hard for us to stay positive given the circumstances… all of Quebec was supporting us and three hours later we experienced the happiest moment of our lives. I didn't even dare imagine such a perfect ending."
She also had a message for all new mothers in hospital. "Don't ever be fooled by a uniform," she said, noting that parents should always check for badges from hospital staff.
"I know it can seem insignificant, but all of this could have been avoided if I had been on guard… it's your kid, don't let it out of your eyesight."
Police say the suspect, a woman in her 20s, is in hospital in police custody. She will appear in court after she is released.
Officials from the hospital said they will look into the incident to try and understand how the baby could have been taken.
With files from CTV Montreal's Rob Lurie