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Fake Social Worker Takes Baby
March 5, 2010 permalink
When Florida teenager Jasmine Marie White needed a baby, she found an easy way to get one. She impersonated a social worker and took three-week-old Melvin Duclos from his family. White had falsely told her family she was pregnant, and needed the baby to make good on her due date.
Jacksonville woman accused of abducting baby Melvin Duclos faked pregnancy
Family members say she acted and looked pregnant, and 'needs help'
The 19-year-old charged with abducting 3-week-old Melvin Duclos remains in jail this morning after a judge granted no bail in her first appearance on the kidnapping charge.
But as soon as Jasmine Marie White was walked out of the courtroom in shackles and a gray jumpsuit, family members said she had told them last week that she was pregnant and expecting a baby this week.
White spent about two minutes in front of Circuit Judge Kevin Blazs as a long line of family members, including her mother, watched from the back of the packed courtroom.
Afterward, her mother wouldn’t comment. But one aunt, Teresa Thomas, said White told her she was pregnant and acted like it, throwing up and “she was showing, her stomach was big.”
“She came to my home on Friday and said she was going to have a baby on Tuesday, and they would induce labor," Thomas said. "We thought she was pregnant. She told everybody she was pregnant. We had no idea that this was going to happen and we are sorry for the family.”
She said the whole family assumed she was pregnant.
"It blew all of us away because we had seen no mental problem,” Thomas said.
Another aunt, Antoinette Canales, said White had numerous miscarriages and couldn’t take losing those babies.
“Don’t throw her in jail, she needs help," Canales said. "She is only 19 and she’s only a baby. She’s lost three babies and needs help. She didn’t hurt the baby.”
Sheriff John Rutherford also said that White had faked a pregnancy. He said in the brief time White had the child Tuesday and Wednesday, her mother was told he was a girl. Melvin also was dressed in pink to further draw away any attention to an Amber Alert issued for an abducted 3-week-old boy.
Authorities tracked a single fingerprint from a fake document given to Melvin's parents Tuesday after they were followed home from a Shands Jacksonville doctor's appointment, the sheriff previously said. A woman posing as an official with the Department of Children and Families told the Ducloses, Haitian immigrants, they were being investigated for possible abuse and needed to hand over the boy.
After realizing it was a ruse, the Ducloses called police. The fingerprint matched White's from a juvenile auto theft arrest and authorities soon figured out possible addresses. They located her and the unharmed child about 13 hours later sleeping in the home White shared with her mother on North Cabot Drive.
Outside the home were empty boxes for a child car seat, a bouncy seat and a baby care cart.
The sheriff said her mother was apparently unaware of the kidnapping 2 1/2 miles away on North Ironside Drive.
Melvin’s father, postal worker Augustin Duclos, credited investigators for a miracle.
White is charged with kidnapping, interference with custody of a child and two unrelated counts of fraudulent use of personal identification information.
Source: Florida Times-Union
Addendum: Eighteen years for kidnapping under pretense of child protection. But this only applies to outsiders.
Kidnapper sentenced to 18 years in Baby Melvin Duclos case
Years from now, Melvin Duclos will learn about the frenzied search that ensued when a Jacksonville woman posing as a child welfare agent snatched him away after stalking his parents.
He’ll hear about how investigators, fearing the worst, rummaged through trash bins and combed a landfill looking for his then 3-week-old body. He’ll hear about how his kidnapper was in her late teens and faked at least one of the four pregnancies she’d reported to friends and family since 2006 — the one where she claimed she gave birth to Duclos while out of town.
The now-10-month-old’s father, Augustin Duclos, said outside Circuit Judge Mark Mahon’s courtroom that one day he’ll give his son any detail he wants to know about the early March abduction. For now, the elder Duclos said he cherishes every time he hears the infant utter “Dada.”
“I think if I didn’t have my son, how would I live?” Duclos said.
The kidnapper, 19-year-old Jasmine Marie White, was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison to be followed by 10 years of probation. She faced a maximum of 40 years.
“I want you to know how sorry I am for all the trouble I caused,” White told the judge. “I’m not a bad person. ... I made a mistake.”
White sobbed while asking Mahon for probation only. As the bailiffs led her out of the courtroom, White bawled. Her screams echoed through a back hallway.
Augustin Duclos dismissed the crying as an act. He said White only felt bad because she got caught. He said he would have liked a tougher sentence.
“I’m still scared,” Duclos said. “After she comes out, what else will she do?”
Prosecutor John Rockwell argued that White preyed on the Duclos family because they are Haitian immigrants who didn’t have strong English language skills. Security footage obtained during the investigation shows White followed the Ducloses to Shands Jacksonville hospital, a grocery store and a family clinic before she showed up at the couple’s doorstep with a fake badge and an even faker story about being from the Florida Department of Children & Families.
White said she was there to investigate child abuse. She then left with 3-week-old Melvin. As part of the ruse, she left behind paperwork that she claimed was part of the case.
Had it not been for a fingerprint on those papers — which led investigators to find the baby 13 hours after the abduction at White’s mother’s house roughly 2½ miles from the Duclos’ Westside home — authorities said it’s unclear if they would have cracked the case.
White had even dressed Melvin Duclos in girl’s clothing to help conceal his identity.
Stephen Bloomfield, a Jacksonville psychologist commissioned by White’s defense team, said he thought the risk of White kidnapping again was low but that she would need intensive psychotherapy.
“She appears to have an uncontrollable desire for children,” Bloomfield said.
In an unrelated identity fraud case, prosecutors said White posed as another person — using a woman’s personal information to get a Florida ID card — to sign an apartment lease.
White pleaded guilty to the fraud and kidnapping charges in November. Rockwell said the fraud case helped show that White’s dishonesty was not limited to the kidnapping.
At the end of the two-hour sentencing hearing, Mahon said he was curious as to what went haywire in White’s mind. She seemed so fond of children, the judge said, yet she saw fit to steal one even if it meant terrorizing a family.
White had a fast-food job but also worked at day-care centers. Her mother and stepfather told the judge that she struggled in school but has a strong work ethic.
White’s lawyer, Travis Reinhold, said he respected Mahon’s ruling.
“It was a very difficult case. There was the shock value of the kidnapping but also her psychological problems,” Reinhold said.
Source: Florida Times-Union