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Possible Break in Kidnapped Infant Case

Aired August 14, 2002 - 14:02   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: A possible break in the frantic search for a 1-month-old baby girl, and the woman who snatched her. Sources are telling CNN they may have found both of them.
CNN's Susan Candiotti is in Dallas, Texas breaking this news for us -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Police are very, very hopeful that indeed they have made the match, that they have found the baby safe and sound, and that they appear to have found the woman who may have abducted her. At the same time, they are being extremely guarded because they do not have a positive ID on the baby as yet. And so, they are indeed hopeful that this will all pan out.

What we have learned from a authorities is that, in fact, some investigative leads led them to a car that matched the description of the one involved in the kidnapping of 1-month-old Nancy Chavez from the parking lot of a Wal-Mart department store in Abilene, Texas late yesterday. You will recall what had happened at that time is that a mother had three children with her. She had put her children in the car, including Nancy, the little baby, the month-old baby, and that she went to return the shopping cart in the parking lot, when all of a sudden she turned around and noticed that someone had snatched the baby out of the car and was driving away with her infant baby. Ran after the kidnapper, a woman, and she was dragged along for at least 30 feet by that car.

Evidently, we are hearing from sources that there may have been some other witnesses to this. In any case, they have located a car far away from Abilene, in the northern part of the state near the panhandle in a small town called Quanah. And they stopped this car, evidently the woman's story that she was telling authorities just didn't add up. In addition to the fact that she had this baby that appeared to match -- had some physical characteristics that matched the baby who was kidnapped.

And at this time, they are -- the FBI is also involved in the case, and armed with a footprint of the baby, they are trying to make that positive ID using the footprint to match it against the hospital records taken from the baby with a footprint of the baby that has been discovered.

Again, the baby is in good condition, and we are also told by authorities in Abilene, Texas that they are now bringing -- or expect to bring shortly the parents to the police department, so evidently they are feeling pretty good about this.

Again, hoping that indeed they have a positive ID.

LIN: Susan, how long is it going to take to get that positive ID on the footprint?

CANDIOTTI: Well, it shouldn't take long. When you are able to make the match between either fingerprints or footprints, it becomes very evident very quickly whether you have got an identification there, so the FBI was flying up there to the small town near the panhandle, near the border, the northern border of Texas, and once they get there, they should be able to make that determination in fairly short order.

LIN: All right. Thank you very much. Susan Candiotti reporting on the telephone on this breaking news from Dallas, Texas.

We have got our Ed Lavandera in Abilene now, covering the case from there -- Ed, what's the reaction there to this news?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the police here -- I have just arrived here in Abilene, and I had a quick moment to speak with some of the officers that are here at the police station. What I've been told is happening is that the family of this 1-month-old girl is now in the process of being brought over to the police station here in Abilene, Texas, which is about 170 miles west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

And what they are trying to do is keep the family isolated. A lot of these reports have starting to trickle out here within the last hour or so. And what one officer told me is they are trying to keep the family on an even plane as they finalize doing the analysis -- the footprint analysis to determine if this is indeed their 1-month-old daughter. They are trying to keep the parents as calm as possible and not let them ride this roller coaster of emotion, as you might imagine they are experiencing.

And what we are being told is that they are being kept isolated. They are going to be brought over here to the police department, and if this is indeed, as it has been indicated to me, that they are very confident this is the girl, that they are going to have the reunion here at the police department here in Abilene, and the one officer also indicated to me that the -- perhaps that they would do that in front of the news cameras here, later on this afternoon.

LIN: Ed, have the police indicated anything at all about what the kidnapper's motive might have been?

LAVANDERA: Well, the only indication I've seen so far is what was initially said -- we have seen several times here, probably throughout the course of the day, the surveillance camera video that was taken from the Wal-Mart parking lot, that this was someone who was on the prowl, if you will, searching through this parking lot, looking for a moment to possibly abduct a child, and that is why they point out in that surveillance camera video that the car was -- made several passes through the parking lot.

This was definitely a planned approach to this child, and to this family or anyone looking, perhaps, vulnerable in the parking lot.

Beyond that, right now, over the last couple of hours, of course, the main concern and the main focus has been tracking down this car. I imagine they will have more to say about that here in the coming hours as this story unfolds.

LIN: All right. Thank you very much. Ed Lavandera standing by there as the police in Abilene, Texas are now bringing the parents of this 1-month-old baby to the police station. All hopes are very high that their baby has been found. They are going to be matching footprints to make sure that they confirm the identity of this baby found somewhere in north Texas in a vehicle matching the description of the one seen fleeing the Wal-Mart parking lot yesterday.

We have got, in fact, some dramatic sound from the baby's father. Let's listen in.


SALVADOR CHAVEZ, FATHER: If the person who is -- who took away my child -- I want this for this person to return my child, because no one is going to be as important -- no one is going to be as important as she is to me and to her mom. So please, return my child.


LIN: A father's plea. And hopefully, that plea will be answered very shortly.




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