PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A suburban Philadelphia woman charged with kidnapping a newborn from a shopping mall told police she had given birth in February to a child who died within hours, and that she just wanted to hold a baby again.
Police said they were not immediately sure if Cherie Amoore, 32, had actually been pregnant or given birth recently. But her family thought she was pregnant, she was thrown a baby shower, and she was named on several baby registries for gifts including a $62 silver frame engraved with a boy's name.
"I didn't go there to steal a baby," Amoore told police after her arrest, according to court papers filed Friday. "I just wanted my baby. It felt like I was holding my son again. It felt so good."
Amoore was charged with kidnapping, child concealment and other offenses. She was being held on $500,000 bail pending an April 15 preliminary hearing.
According to police, she struck up a conversation with the baby's mother Thursday at the King of Prussia Mall by saying she had a boy the same age. She followed the woman and her family to several stores and joined them at the food court. When the newborn became fussy, she asked if she could hold him while the mother took a phone call and tended to another child. Amoore then walked off with the boy.
The mother, Malika Turner, tried to chase her but had to keep an eye on her other toddler, the affidavit said. She instead asked people to call 911.
Mall security video, combined with tips that poured in and help from the suspect's family, led police to find the baby unharmed at Amoore's apartment in Tredyffrin Township.
"I took the baby and I am sorry," she told police when they arrived, according to the police affidavit.
The infant, Ahsir Simmons, was found shortly after 10 p.m., more than four hours after he went missing.
Online store registries for Amoore sought gifts for a baby shower set for Dec. 19. At least some of the items had been purchased. Messages left with Amoore's family were not returned on Friday.
She told police she gave birth on Feb. 11, but said the birth did not take place in a hospital, according to Upper Merion Sgt. Jay Johnson. Detectives were trying to determine if that is true.
Turner thanked police and people on social media who helped reunite her with her son.
"I would like to thank God for allowing my baby to come back. And, I want to thank the Upper Merion Police Department, and everybody on social media that helped me get my baby back," Turner told WPVI-TV late Thursday.
Court records for Amoore show only a handful of traffic violations.
Deputy Montgomery County Public Defender Gregory Nester, appointed to represent Amoore, said he did not yet know enough about the case to comment Friday.