By OLIVIA KATRANDJIAN
A teenager has been arrested on accusations of being the mastermind of an elaborate scheme to kidnap a 2-week-old baby in Santa Ana, Calif., according to police.
Gladys Remigio,17, was arraigned Friday for allegedly enlisting two gang members, 20-year-old Steven Quirino and 19-year-old Robert Rodriguez, to steal her roommate's 15-day-old daughter.
The newborn's mother, who is identified only as "Norma," told police that on the morning of Nov. 29, Remigio entered her bedroom with a man armed with a gun and ordered Norma into the bathroom. Norma's other children were asleep.
Norma managed to escape when the two men fled the scene, and she found her baby outside with Remigio.
At first, the police thought that Remigio was also a victim of the robbery, because she rents a room at Norma's house with her father. But police soon learned Remigio's twisted back story.
"She's engaged to a guy who thinks that she's 8 months pregnant and working in New York City. But she's not pregnant," Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. "Eight months into this lie, she's living with these people who have a 2-week old baby. So her master plan was to befriend these two hardcore gang members and have them rob the house.
"The deal was that she would pay them a little bit of cash and they could steal her iPhone and whatever else they could find in the house," he said.
Police suspect that Quirino and Rodriguez did ransack the home and allegedly stole a video game console. But after that, things didn't play out exactly as Remigio allegedly planned, Bertagna said.
"The deal was that the two gang members were going to put the baby in the back of the car and Remigio was going to drive to Chula Vista, where her boyfriend lives, and live happily ever after with her fiance and present the kidnapped baby as if she had a kid," he said.
But Quirino and Rodriguez left Remigio at the house with the baby and fled the scene.
Allegedly upset with the two gang members for leaving her behind, Remigio told police where to find one of them -- at a local doughnut shop where, she says, he hangs out, Bertagna said. The police tracked him down and he is now in custody.
Remigio then headed towards San Diego County with two other unknown individuals. She called her future mother-in-law and told her that people had kidnapped her, induced labor, and were holding her baby hostage for $10,000, police said.
Remigio's future mother-in-law called the police and reported the crime.
Soon after, Remigio showed up at her future mother-in-law's house with two men, Bertagna said. The woman was surprised to see Remigio, who she thought was in New York City. The two men disappeared before police could identify them.
Remigio then allegedly shifted her story and told authorities that there was never a kidnapping, but that she had false labor and threw the baby in a trash can, police said.
The police immediately called in child abuse detectives at 9 p.m., and they searched dumpsters for the fetus until the next morning, according to the police.
When detectives couldn't find a fetus, they reinterviewed Remigio, who allegedly finally admitted she had been lying the whole time, according to the police.
"She said she thought she was pregnant at one point but she wasn't, and she wanted to keep her fiance," Bertagna said. "Meanwhile our robbery detectives were interviewing the suspect in custody. He said 'Woah woah woah, she's the very person who hired me.'"
The third suspect was found the following day and taken into custody.
If convicted on all charges, which include conspiracy to commit a crime, first degree residential robbery, first degree residential robbery, and street terrorism, with a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity, Quirino and Rodriguez face a maximum sentence of life in state prison.
Remigio is charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to commit a crime, first degree residential robbery, first degree residential robbery, and attempted kidnapping with sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity. She will be tried as an adult, and if she is convicted on all charges, Remigio faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison.
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