I can't summarize it any other way. In my 29 years, I've never seen anything like this. We've never seen anything like this where someone goes out looking for babies and they attempt to kill the mothers. It's just unbelievable. —Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna
LONG BEACH, Calif. — A kidnapping that ended with the murder of a 3-week-old baby girl took a more sordid turn when police announced they tied it to a California woman accused of plotting to steal infants and pass them off as her own.
In arresting Giseleangelique Rene D'Milian, 47, and three others Wednesday, police said they cracked a sinister scheme that led to the death of tiny Eliza Delacruz in January and an assault on a 23-year-old mother at a hotel last month who was targeted for her 4-month-old son.
Investigators in Long Beach and El Segundo would not say how baby Eliza died and declined to discuss what may have motivated the woman's three accomplices to participate beyond saying that the man they believe carried out the attacks was a friend and the other woman arrested was D'Milian's daughter.
Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said his staff suggested avoiding the word "evil" to describe the case, but he couldn't.
"I can't summarize it any other way," he said. "In my 29 years, I've never seen anything like this. We've never seen anything like this where someone goes out looking for babies and they attempt to kill the mothers. It's just unbelievable."
The plot began when D'Milian falsely told her married boyfriend that she had given birth to his twins last December while she was out of the country, police said. There is no indication he knew of the plans, Long Beach Lt. Lloyd Cox said.
"She fabricated a story and wanted him to believe these children were his. Why? We don't know. We're not sure what the motivation was," he said, adding that D'Milian was searching for children with a dark complexion that matched her own.
Details of the plot emerged a week after a Colorado woman who told her family she was pregnant lured an expectant mother with a Craigslist ad for baby clothes and cut the unborn baby from her belly, authorities said. The baby didn't survive, but the mother has been released from the hospital.
In California, D'Milian, of Thousand Oaks, was arrested on suspicion of murder, kidnapping, attempted murder and conspiracy. Anthony McCall, 29, of Oceanside, was arrested on the same charges.
D'Milian's 30-year-old daughter, Charisse Shelton, and 44-year-old Todd Boudreaux were arrested on suspicion of helping cover up the crimes, authorities said. All were being held without bail except Shelton, whose bail was set at $1 million.
It wasn't clear late Wednesday if they had attorneys or would request a public defender at a court hearing scheduled for Friday.
Eliza's mother, father and uncle were shot and wounded in their Long Beach home Jan. 3, and McCall kidnapped the baby two hours after he and D'Milian tailed a public bus carrying Eliza and her mother, police said.
The baby's body was discovered the following day in a trash bin in Imperial Beach, a city on the Mexican border about 100 miles to the south.
Another woman was beaten with a baseball bat on Feb. 6 in El Segundo while her 4-month-old son was in the room. Hotel employees interrupted the assault, but McCall escaped, police said. Police believe the child was the target of the kidnapping scheme.
D'Milian also started a fake charity focusing on 1- to 2-month-old babies and asked her friends to spread the word in an attempt to find other children to kidnap, authorities said.
She may have identified Eliza's mother through that network, police said, but the mother told police she had never seen D'Milian before. Police don't believe there were other victims.
The case stumped Long Beach authorities for weeks because Eliza's parents and uncle were too severely wounded to be interviewed, Luna said.
Her mother later recalled that a woman pulled over in a black Range Rover when she got off the bus on Jan. 3 and asked her about the baby.
Police last week released composite sketches of the woman and kidnapper and surveillance video of the SUV. The information generated tips and new witnesses who led them to the Range Rover and the suspects, Luna said.
Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus .