By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Houston woman who police said stabbed her friend to death, stole the mother's six-week-old baby girl and tried to pass the infant off as her own was arrested on Thursday, the same day authorities said they had found the missing child alive.
Erika Miranda-Alvarez, 28, apparently took the baby to hide from her boyfriend and family that she had a miscarriage, police said. Due to deliver in January, she came home on Tuesday with the stolen infant, telling family that she delivered early.
"Lo and behold, on Dec. 19, she showed up with a baby and pretended it was hers," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told a news conference.
She has been charged with capital murder, which could bring the death penalty, in the stabbing death of Carolina Flores, 33, who was found dead on Tuesday.
There was no lawyer listed for Miranda-Alvarez and she has not issued a statement to the media.
The baby, Shamali Flores, was recovered from a Houston apartment complex after an extensive manhunt by Houston police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The child showed no signs of abuse or neglect, Acevedo said.
"We saw that little angel just sitting there that doesn't have a clue of what is going on," he said of the recovery.
Acevedo said detectives put together a theory, which turned out to accurate, that the person responsible for the murder was an area woman who recently lost a child. Clues and the cooperation of the immigrant community where the mother and infant lived led investigators to the apartment complex where the infant girl was found, he said.
It was a joyous occasion to find the child alive, he added.
"When you can find a silver lining out of a tragedy as this - a young woman was brutally murdered - you have got to take what you can," he said.
"That is what keeps our sanity as police officers."
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Colleen Jenkins and G Crosse)