Among abductions occurring outside the healthcare setting, 38% of the total occurred from private homes, and the final 13% of the total in other public venues.
A Unique Crime
Infant abduction seems to be distinct from other types of kidnapping in several ways. The first unique characteristic of infant abduction is the profile of the stereotypical perpetrator. Examination of case reports shows that the vast majority of abductors are females of childbearing age. Most live in or near the city where the abduction takes place. Many are overweight, and they may have a history of depression or lying, manipulative behavior.
Additionally, the motives of these women are notably different than those of other kidnappers who are interested in sexual exploitation, money, or revenge. Instead, these women most often desire to have a child of their own. This may be to replace a child or pregnancy that was lost, or to appease a significant other who they perceive may leave them if they cannot produce a child. Notably, many of the kidnappers, later caught, have been observed to provide adequate care for the infants.
Though the timing of an infant abduction can be impulsive, many kidnappers show evidence of elaborate planning beforehand. Several women have staged fictitious pregnancies on one or more occasions. Some kidnappers have even bought baby items or furnished nurseries in anticipation of having a child. Many offenders visit the hospitals or other facilities they later target on several occasions prior to an attempted abduction. They will try to become familiar with hospital personnel often by asking probing questions about security and procedure. A common ploy is for the kidnappers to impersonate nurses, lab technicians, or other hospital personnel in an attempt to gain access to the children. Some even acquire hospital uniforms or other disguises.
They may pose as family members of other patients in order to befriend the parents of their victims. This was the case of Nikenya Washington, who actually entered the room of the would-be victim’s mother early in the evening on the night of the crime. She stated that she had walked into the wrong room and tried to strike up a conversation before leaving.