The mother of a day-old infant snatched from a Quebec hospital says she’s grateful to everyone who helped bring home her baby — especially the group of people who hunted down the alleged kidnapper thanks to a Facebook post.
Police issued an Amber Alert on Monday night after the newborn was abducted from the mother’s hospital room in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, by a woman allegedly wearing scrubs and posing as a nurse who said she needed to weigh the baby.
The alert, which included a security-camera photo of the suspect and a description of her car, was splashed across mainstream and social media within minutes.
Four young local residents wasted little time picking up the cause and guided police to the woman’s home, where officers found the baby unharmed three hours later. Police also arrested a woman in her early 20s in connection with the kidnapping.
“Every click, every share made the difference,” the infant’s mother, Melissa McMahon, wrote on Tuesday in a post on her Facebook page.
“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!!!”
The online detectives who helped find baby Victoria were identified as Charlene Plante, Marc-Andre Cote, Sharelle Bergeron and Melizanne Bergeron.
Melizanne Bergeron told reporters on Tuesday in Trois-Rivieres that she came across the information about the kidnapping on Facebook and showed the photo of the suspect to her friend Plante, who realized the woman was her neighbor.
She said they spotted the vehicle described in the alert parked outside the building, saw signs that someone was inside and called police. Officers, she added, arrived on the scene quickly and broke down the woman’s door.
“Thirty seconds after, the baby was in the hands of the police,” said Melizanne Bergeron, who touched Victoria as the officer cradling the infant walked past. “It was the best moment in my life. We were crying.”
Plante told reporters they went with police to the hospital, where McMahon and her spouse, Simon Boisclair, asked to meet the people who had helped rescue Victoria.
“The mother was crying and she was very happy,” said Plante. “I don’t realize it (yet), I’m just a person like (anybody else) and I saved a life.”
Melizanne Bergeron posted a video on Tuesday on her Facebook page of young women crying as they greeted a police officer carrying a tiny, blanket-wrapped baby.
McMahon, who also thanked hospital staff, police, the media and the public for helping find Victoria, called those hours without her infant the worst of her life.
She and Boisclair posted a photo of themselves on Tuesday holding Victoria.
“The powerlessness we felt in this situation was difficult to accept,” wrote McMahon, who said she sprinted after the woman toward the hospital exit after sensing something was wrong.
“The worst-possible scenarios were looping in our heads … To no longer have her in my arms after barely 16 hours of life was unreal.”
McMahon said patients and visitors near the door provided information about the suspect and her vehicle, described in the alert as a red Toyota hatchback with a “Baby on Board” sticker on the rear window.
Quebec provincial police Sgt. Claude Denis said it was too early to say whether the suspect would be arraigned on Tuesday. He said possible criminal charges include kidnapping.
“The suspect is in hospital right now and investigators will meet her when her condition allows for that,” he said in an interview.