See updates Nos. 4 and 5 at the end of this post on the charges and prison time Grisel Maria Ramirez faces, as well as allegations she shopped for a baby in “multiple hospital rooms.”
Also see updates: No. 3 on 9-1-1 audio and another hospital possibly targeted; No. 2 with photo evidence and the suspect's mugshot; and No. 1 with more details on the case.
ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 6, 2:52 P.M.: A woman posing as a nurse walked into the Garden Grove Medical Center room of a new mother and her infant this morning and caused a distraction that allowed the stranger to place the baby in a tote bag and leave, according to police.
Fortunately, the would-be baby-napper was apprehended before she left the hospital, reports Lt. Jeff Nightengale, the Garden Grove Police spokesman.
This happened just after 10 a.m., and hospital staff were alerted immediately about the infant being stolen, stated Nightengale, adding that the baby was recovered and immediately reunited with the mother.
No identities have been released, not even that of the suspected napper, who was only described as a female Hispanic adult. Facing kidnapping charges, she is being uncooperative with police, according to Nightengale.
UPDATE NO. 1, AUG. 6, 4:12 P.M.: Nightengale just concluded a press conference where he gave more details about this morning's incident.
He said the suspect is 48, a resident of Garden Grove about 20 years and that she likely entered the country illegally. She is not related to the mother nor the female baby, who was not injured, and Nightengale did not know if the suspect is a mother herself. She has no prior arrests.
Nightengale said surveillance video showed the would-be napper entering the hospital wearing scrubs that made it appear she was a hospital employee. She told the mother a doctor wanted her to take a shower, and while she was in the restroom the phony nurse placed the baby in the tote bag and walked out, according to the police spokesman.
Real hospital staff members were alerted to an emergency when the baby's electronic wrist bracelet triggered an alarm, according to Nightengale.
UPDATE NO. 2, AUG. 6, 7:15 P.M.: The Garden Grove Police Department identified the suspect as Grisel Maria Ramirez, 48, of Garden Grove.
The agency also released this booking photo:
And this surveillance video shot that is alleged to be Ramirez entering the hospital:
And this photo of the tote bag the infant was placed in.
[UPDATE NO. 3, AUG. 7, 2:57 P.M.: The Garden Grove Police Department has released a short audio file of the call between an emergency dispatcher and a Garden Grove Medical Center representative about the attempted kidnapping of a newborn girl Monday morning.
Meanwhile, suspect Grisel Maria Ramirez may have approached an expectant mother at an Anaheim hospital last week. The stranger asked the pregnant woman when she is due and what the sex of her baby is, Garden Grove Police Lt. Jeff Nightengale tells the Orange County Register.
The expectant mom was so freaked out she called police, and Orange County hospitals were warned about the encounter, according to Nightengale, adding the advisory may have played a part in Garden Grove Medical Center security acting so swiftly Monday morning.
Ramirez, who is being held without bail, is the mother of three children and has no known history of mental illness, according to authorities, who note that besides hospital scrubs she wore a visitor badge during the Garden Grove incident.
Nightengale produced this motive for the woman who gave investigators many fake names initially: she told her estranged husband nine months ago she was pregnant, and when her phony due date arrived she had to come up with a baby.
UPDATE NO. 4, AUG. 8, 11:32 A.M.: In anticipation of Grisel Ramirez's scheduled arraignment at the West Justice Center in Garden Grove this afternoon, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) just released a statement on the charges the 48-year-old faces: one felony
count of kidnapping of a child under 14 years old and five felony
counts of first degree burglary.
With a conviction, the mother could be sent to state prison for up to
17 19 years and eight months. The OCDA says it will ask the judge to set bail at $1 million.
The statement claims she searched "multiple hospital rooms in two different
hospitals for a baby to steal.”
UPDATE NO. 5, AUG. 8, 1:59 P.M.: A second arraignment statement from the OCDA this afternoon clarifies the charges and penalty Ramirez faces: one felony count of kidnapping of a child under 14 years old and five
felony counts of first degree burglary with a sentencing enhancement for
the kidnapping of a child to deprive the parent of custody.
convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 19 years and eight months in
state prison, according to the OCDA, whose release also accuses the defendant of having visited four different Garden Grove Medical Center rooms asking new mothers about the sex and birth date of their babies before taking the newborn of the fifth mother.
Details of a July 26 encounter at Western Medical Center in Anaheim are also presented in the OCDA statement. Ramirez is
accused of also entering that hospital in medical scrubs and carrying a tote
bag with the intention of kidnapping a newborn baby girl.
Meanwhile, the investigation continues. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Garden Grove Police Department at 714.741.5800 or the District Attorney Special Investigations Hotline
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before "graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.