Police: Attempted-Kidnapping Suspect Prompted Hospital Warnings Before Latest Incident

Investigators say the suspect told them she lied to her estranged husband about being pregnant

By Ted Chen
|  Tuesday, Aug 7, 2012  |  Updated 11:18 PM PDT
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The 48-year-old woman suspected of attempting to take a newborn from the Garden Grove Medical Center approached women at other hospitals about their babies prior to Monday’s incident, police say. Grisel Ramirez was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a newborn by posing as a hospital worker. An electronic bracelet on the newborn tipped off hospital workers to the incident. Ted Chen reports from Garden Grove for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2012.

Ted Chen

The 48-year-old woman suspected of attempting to take a newborn from the Garden Grove Medical Center approached women at other hospitals about their babies prior to Monday’s incident, police say. Grisel Ramirez was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a newborn by posing as a hospital worker. An electronic bracelet on the newborn tipped off hospital workers to the incident. Ted Chen reports from Garden Grove for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2012.

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New details emerged Tuesday in an alleged attempted kidnapping of a newborn baby at the Garden Grove Medical Center the day before when a woman dressed as a hospital employee is suspected of trying to smuggle a baby girl out of the hospital in a tote bag.

“At first when the doctor asked her to open up the bag, she didn’t want to and, of course, a baby was found,” a hospital worker told Garden Grove police dispatch Monday.

By the time that phone call had been made, doctors and nurses at the hospital had recovered the day-old baby girl and 48-year-old Grisel Ramirez was being held by security.

Surveillance video released Tuesday shows Ramirez allegedly walking into the hospital Monday morning. Police say she entered the mother’s room wearing scrubs, suggested the woman take a shower then put the baby in a tote bag.

Doctors and police credit the newborn’s safe return with a security bracelet attached to newborns that triggered a screaming alarm and prompted staff members to block all exits.

“This is the band that we apply to the baby; it gets applied to the ankle and this is actually a sample of the sensor that goes on with the band,” said Sofia Avrin, Garden Grove Medical Center chief nursing officer, demonstrating the device, which looks like a thin paper band.

But a baby does not need to be taken out of the hospital for the band to do its job. Tampering with the device would also have set off the alarm.

Investigators say Ramirez told them she lied to her estranged husband about being pregnant and when she could not produce a baby, she allegedly attempted to steal one as a substitute. Police say Monday’s incident was not her first attempt.

Garden Grove police Lt. Jeff Nightengale says Ramirez approached two patients at Anaheim’s Western Medical Center in late July asking about their newborns.

Police say a flier warning about that incident made its way to Garden Grove Hospital, and a nurse showed it to police after Ramirez was apprehended.

Police on Tuesday said they believe Ramirez and her tote bag were involved in the Anaheim incidents.

Still, officials are lauding technology and quick thinking.

“It’s a very happy ending,” Nightengale said.

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