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October 4, 2009 permalink
Four days after giving birth to Yair Antonio Carrillo, Tennessee mother Maria Gurrola was attacked by an impostor posing as an immigration agent. Gurrola was stabbed eight times before her attacker fled with the baby to Alabama. Police found the kidnapper, Tammy Renee Silas with the baby four days later. Did mother get her baby back? No way. Tennessee children's services kept the baby, and took the mother's three other children as well. They will not give any reason for their actions.
October 4, 2009
Kidnapped baby, mother reunited for a moment
State places infant and his three siblings in foster care
By Chris Echegaray, THE TENNESSEAN
Maria Gurrola held her baby Saturday for the first time since he was kidnapped last week, but the week-old child was taken from her arms again.
Little Yair Antonio Carrillo and his three siblings — ages 11, 9, and 3 — are in the custody of the state Department of Children's Services. They were removed from Gurrola's home Saturday.
"It's for the children's safety," DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said. "I can't tell you how long. It will all be reviewed by a judge."
No specific reasons were given for taking the children. Police will say only that the investigation into the kidnapping is continuing.
Joel Siskovic, an FBI agent in the Memphis division, said he could not say why the children were put into state custody.
"As of now, there's no indication that there's an ongoing threat to the family," he told The Associated Press.
Gurrola held the baby and spent some time with him at an undisclosed location, Johnson said. After the children were removed, the family could not be reached for comment.
Several key questions remain unanswered. Why were the children removed from the home? Why did the kidnapper target this mother and child? Was anyone else involved? If the kidnapper has been caught, what's left to investigate?
And for Yair Carrillo's family, when will the infant come home?
Earlier, family members had been overjoyed that the baby was found unharmed.
While the infant, 9 days old today, remains in foster care, police aren't saying what led a woman they identified as Tammy Renee Silas to target the family.
After a four-day search, the baby was found about 85 miles from Nashville near Ardmore, Ala., in a house shared by Silas and her boyfriend, according to police.
Yair was 4 days old when a woman pretending to be an immigration agent abducted him from his South Nashville home on Tuesday. Gurrola's immigration status is unknown.
Before the abduction, Silas, 39, who has lived in the state line town of Ardmore for about two years, apparently was pretending to be adopting a baby, telling her boyfriend the legal process was under way, according to police.
But the make-believe plot became very real, and very violent. After she tricked her way into Gurrola's house, Silas stabbed the mother eight times, causing deep wounds and a collapsed lung, police said.
"The job is done," Silas said in Spanish into a cell phone as Gurrola lay bleeding, the mother told police.
Investigators have not disclosed whom the woman was talking to. They also have not said if there are other suspects or if anyone else is likely to be charged.
The hunt for a heavyset woman and a Kia Spectra she was thought to be driving ensued, with an Amber alert and the baby's picture all over the media.
A team of Metro police, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents and FBI investigators discovered the car had been rented at Nashville International Airport, and traced a cell phone number left as a contact on the rental agreement to Silas.
They arrested Silas on Friday night. She has been charged with kidnapping, a federal offense. State charges in the attack on Gurrola had not been filed Saturday. The case could go directly to a grand jury.
Silas was being held in Alabama pending an extradition hearing.
Outside their East Ridge Drive home on Saturday morning, the baby's father waited as a carpet cleaning crew removed traces of the bloody attack. Jose Antonio Carrillo said he was relieved that his son is safe, and he was anxious to see his boy.
"It was eating me inside but I had to hold it together for my wife because she was in bad shape," said Carrillo, holding an energy drink to get him through the lack of sleep.
"I had to hold strong. I never thought this could ever happen to us."
One photo taken
Carrillo had taken the only picture of his newborn son. That photo was circulated all over the Southeast by investigators and missing children organizations.
"We cannot wait to see him," he said. "I am so glad I took that picture. It went everywhere on the Internet right away."
Carrillo said he moved to Nashville from Zacatecas, Mexico, about seven years ago. He and his family lived with relatives until he was able to get on his feet. Carrillo said the family has never had problems until now.
"I would never think this would happen to us here or anywhere," he said.
For now, the family is staying with relatives, said Carrillo's cousin, Norma Rodriguez. Gurrola has been skittish about going back home since the attack, Rodriguez said.
The federal arrest warrant shows Silas was tracking Gurrola's movements and struck when she was alone. On Tuesday, Silas followed Gurrola to a Women, Infants and Children office and later to a Walmart on Nolensville Pike, according to the warrant. Gurrola, with her baby and a cousin, went back to her East Ridge Drive home.
After Gurrola's cousin left, the mother and infant took a nap. Then, there was a knock on the door.
After the knife attack, the abductor grabbed the baby, a cell phone and a debit card from a diaper bag.
When the child was rescued, authorities conducted a DNA test to make sure they had the right child. The family removed the hospital identification bracelet before he was abducted, Carrillo said.
To confirm it was her son, investigators also showed Gurrola a picture of the baby taken after the rescue on Friday night. It was.
"We are so happy," Rodriguez said early Saturday. "Our supplications were answered."
Addendum: On October 6, all of the children were returned to their parents.