GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — A woman caught trying to steal a newborn girl from a Southern California hospital had faked a pregnancy with her estranged husband, and needed the baby to continue the deception after her due date passed, according to Garden Grove police.
In an effort to pose as a new mom, Grisel Ramirez, 48, allegedly disguised herself in hospital scrubs and posed as a visitor when she attempted to abduct a baby from Garden Grove Medical Center on Monday, Lt. Jeff Nightengale said.
"She perpetuated this myth for several months, and they don't live together and don't see each other, so the husband totally believed it," said Nightengale.
When the due date passed, Nightengale said Ramirez' husband pressed her to meet the child, asking questions like "When do I get to meet my daughter? When do I need to sign the birth certificate?"
The husband had no knowledge of the attempted kidnapping and was surprised to learn she was going to steal a child to fulfill a baby promise, Nightengale said.
"We interviewed him last night and he for sure thought he was the father of a baby girl," Nightengale said. "He was upset and devastated that it wasn't true."
Ramirez also may have been lurking around Western Medical Center-Anaheim on July 26, Nightengale said.
A woman approached several expectant moms and asked their due dates until someone became suspicious and alerted hospital staff, who alerted police, Nightengale said.
There was surveillance video available at the hospital, but police did a photo lineup for the people who witnessed the woman's strange activity at the hospital and they positively identified Ramirez as the inquisitive lurker, Nightengale said.
Garden Grove Medical Center Director Sofia Abrina told reporters Tuesday that Ramirez presented herself as a visitor who wanted to visit a patient when she entered the hospital Monday.
Abrina said when a sensor attached to a bracelet around the baby's ankle set off alarms, everyone in the ward began searching and running head counts on patients until Ramirez was apprehended.
Ramirez is accused of entering the room of the baby's mother and posing as a nurse who told the mom to take a shower before a doctor came to examine her, Nightengale said.
Once the baby's mother was out of the room, Ramirez allegedly put the newborn in a purple tie-dyed tote bag and tried to carry her out of the ward, setting off the alarm.
Many hospital wards have security systems where patients, such as newborns or those with Alzheimer's disease, are tagged with an electronic sensor — usually in a bracelet or anklet — that sets off an alarm when the patient leaves a certain perimeter.
The baby wasn't harmed during the short time she was in the tote and was returned to the care of her mother.
Authorities have not yet filed any charges against Ramirez.
Ramirez, a waitress, is being held without bail and is due for arraignment Wednesday.