Baby Kidnapped From Hospital Found Suspect: 'Couldn't Get Pregnant'

Posted: April 26, 1988

The woman accused of stealing Faye Cherry's 4-month-old baby from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on Saturday said she wanted to give her boyfriend a baby and couldn't get pregnant.

Cherylle Staley, 21, told police she had told her boyfriend, Ossie Lowery, 25, that she was pregnant, "and the outcome of being pregnant is to have a baby."

"I only took the baby because I wanted a baby," Staley told police. "I had no intention of doing harm to her."

The baby, LaShae Cherry, was found unharmed yesterday afternoon in the home Staley and Lowery share on Dakota Street near 31st in North Philadelphia.

They were picked up by FBI agents and Philadelphia police after the FBI received a tip about 3 p.m. that the child was there, police said.

Staley was charged with kidnapping and related offenses. Lowery was questioned and released without being charged.

The baby was back in her mother's arms yesterday, in good health and gurgling happily.

She was the star of a press conference in the auditorium of Children's Hospital, where she mugged for the TV cameras and sucked on a bottle while her 18-year-old mother beamed.

Cherry admitted that she had lost hope of ever seeing her baby again, but said that her mother, Marcella, helped keep her spirits up.

"We're gonna have a celebration tonight," said the young mother. "I'm just so happy . . . It seems like a miracle.

"Whoever it was that took her took good care of her. She fed her and bought her new clothes."

When police called her at her mother's house on Arch Street near 58th around 4 p.m. and told her they thought they had found her baby, "it was like the roof came off the house," Cherry said.

On the way to the hospital, she said she kept telling her mother, "Mom, I know it's her."

"As soon as she (LaShae) saw me, she laughed and laughed," Cherry said.

Cherry said she did not want to see the woman who had taken her child. She said she hopes she "rots in hell."

Staley, in her statement to police, said she went to Children's Hospital about 11 a.m. Saturday with the intention of taking a baby.

She had no trouble getting into the hospital. She was never stopped by security guards or anyone else, she said.

The detective conducting the questioning asked her if she had gotten a pass to visit a child. She said no.

"Were you stopped or questioned by anyone at the hospital?" she was asked.

"No," she replied.

She said she went to the fifth floor and into the medical wing. She said she knew the fifth floor was divided into medical and surgical units and that she went to the medical unit "because I thought those babies were better off."

"I went into the room the baby was in," she said. "The nurse walked up to me and asked me who I was there to see. I pointed to the baby, and she told me the baby was a nice baby and did I know her. I said yes. She asked me did I want to hold her. I said yes."

Staley said she took the baby out of the room and, after putting a sleeper on the child and wrapping her in a blanket, left the hospital. No one tried to stop her, she said.

The case was reminiscent of that of a Maryland woman who feigned pregnancy in an effort to hold on to her boyfriend. The woman, Ramona Joan Thompson, 45, posed as a nurse and took day-old Phillip Worthington from his mother's arms Nov. 7, 1986, at Grand View Hospital near Sellersville, Bucks County.

Thompson had had a hysterectomy, but claimed to be pregnant to please her boyfriend, who wanted a son. The baby was returned unharmed, and Thompson was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Last Oct. 30, another Maryland woman was arrested in Philadelphia with a baby she had kidnapped from his mother's room at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on June 18.

In her statement to police, Staley said that when she left Children's Hospital, it was raining. She told of walking around West Philadelphia, eventually taking a trolley to Center City. There, she said, she spent time in various stores.

She said she purchased some disposable diapers, a baby's bottle and some milk. She said she fed and changed the baby in a department store restroom. She later called Lowery and arranged to meet him in a train station.

They went by public transportation to the Dakota Street home.

The police statement includes the following questions and answers:

"When did you tell Ossie you had a baby?"

"I told Ossie that Saturday. I don't know what time it was."

"What did you tell him?"

"I told him that I had a girl. I told him she was 7 pounds, 13 ounces, and she was 21 inches long."

"Did you tell Ossie you took the baby?"

"No."

"Did you tell Ossie that you delivered a baby and the baby was his?"

"Yes. I told him that I went into labor about 7:45 on Friday and I told him that I delivered her at 10:51 p.m. on Friday. I told him I went to Crozer Hospital (Crozer Chester Medical Center), but I didn't say where. So he believes I had the baby in Delaware (County)."

"When you went to CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia), did you go there with the idea of taking a baby home?"

"Yes."

"Why did you take this particular baby?"

"No definite reason."

"Why did you take the baby?"

"I took the baby because I said I was pregnant and the outcome of being pregnant is to have a baby."

"When did you decide to take the baby?"

"Beginning of April."

"Have you gone into Children's Hospital before Saturday looking for a baby?"

"Do you wish to add anything?"

"I only took the child because I wanted a baby. I had no intention of doing harm to her."

Earlier, police said, Staley told detectives she had wanted to give her boyfriend a baby and "couldn't get pregnant."

A neighbor of Staley's said the woman graduated from West Catholic Girls High School. She is the oldest of three daughters of Marilyn and Nathan Staley, the neighbor, Joandell Butler, said. Her younger sisters are 9 and 11.

Butler said she had heard on the block that Staley was getting married. She saw Cherylle last about four months ago, she said.

"She appeared to me to be stable, normal," Butler said. "As far as I could see, she was outgoing and friendly."

Staley has been charged with kidnapping, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, interfering with the custody of a child, and recklessly endangering another person.

The baby, who had been in the hospital for treatment for pneumonia, was in good health and would be discharged immediately, said Dr. Leonard Friedland, pediatrician at Children's Hospital.

He said the child showed no sign of the pneumonia or other ill effects from her ordeal.

After yesterday's press conference at the hospital, Edward Cherry, 29, uncle of Faye and brother of the child's grandmother, held little LaShae and planted a big kiss on her.

"Oh, man," he said. "Oh, man, I'm going to sleep tonight."

Cherry said that all the clothing the child was wearing when she was returned to her was new. Only the gold post earrings she had on were the same, she said.

The baby was wearing light blue bunting with a design of dark blue teddy bears holding little red hearts.

Shirley Bonnem, vice president for public relations and development at Children's Hospital, said that among security changes under consideration might be doing away with the current 24-hour visitation policy.

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