AUSTIN, Texas — The news of the plotted abduction of baby Margo Carey and death of mother Heidi Broussard raises questions around how frequently and why infant abductions happen.
From 1964 to Oct. 2019, 327 children under the age of one have been abducted in the U.S., according to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Forty-one of those cases have been in Texas.
Among all those cases, 140 were abducted from healthcare facilities, 140 from homes and 47 in other locations.
Of those 327 children who were abducted, 257 of them were taken by women of childbearing age, between the ages of 14 and 39.
A nurse or healthcare worker is more likely to take a child from a healthcare setting, while a babysitter, relative or friend is more likely to take an infant from the home, NCMEC says.
The majority of these cases have not ended in violence, unlike what happened to Broussard. NCMEC says since 1964, only 11% (39 cases) of the child abductions have resulted in the mother's death.
NCMEC has identified a number of characteristics infant abductions have in common, but they are clear in the fact not of all these factors may be present in every situation.
For infant abductions related to healthcare:
- The suspect is usually a woman of childbearing age who appears to be pregnant
- Often compulsive and relies on manipulation, lying and deception
- Often in a relationship; desire to provide baby for companion or companion's desire for a baby may be motivation
- Usually lives where the abduction occurs
- Often visits healthcare facility prior to the abduction and asks questions of the staff; may also abduct from the home
- Usually the abduction is planned, though they may not target a specific infant, instead seizing on an opportunity that presents itself
- May impersonate a healthcare professional
- Becomes familiar with healthcare staff, routines and victim's extended family
- Usually capable of caring for the baby once the abduction happens
Those who abduct from home settings:
- More likely to be single but claim to have a partner
- Often target a mother she meets through a healthcare facility visit
- Usually plans the abduction and comes armed, although she may not use the weapon
- Usually impersonates a healthcare or social services professional when visiting the target's home
Currently in the U.S., there are 15 children under the age of six months who have been abducted and are still missing, according to NCMEC.
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