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Police: Alleged kidnapper put baby in purse

Alarm, hospital personnel helped in child’s rescue

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Naquelle Sonieq Ballard, 19, had nothing to say during her first appearance Thursday in Clayton Magistrate Court. Ballard is charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment stemming from her alleged attempt to take a newborn baby girl from Southern Regional Medical Center.

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Naquelle Sonieq Ballard, 19, had nothing to say during her first appearance Thursday in Clayton Magistrate Court. Ballard is charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment stemming from her alleged attempt to take a newborn baby girl from Southern Regional Medical Center.

Clayton County police allege in criminal arrest warrants, that a Morrow teenager put a newborn baby girl inside a brown pocketbook Wednesday morning, when she tried to kidnap her from a Riverdale hospital.

The new details are outlined in warrants filed in Clayton Magistrate Court in the case against Naquelle Sonieq Ballard, 19. Ballard made her first appearance Thursday afternoon on charges of kidnapping and false imprisonment.

Because of the seriousness of the charges, Magistrate Richard Brown ordered that she be held without bond in the Clayton County Jail. Ballard told Brown she understood the charges against her, but had no questions.

Brown said she qualified for a public defender, who would visit her in a few days to discuss her case. He set Jan. 17, as Ballard's preliminary hearing date.

The warrants allege that Ballard began planning a kidnapping in September when she miscarried. Police say Ballard didn't tell her boyfriend about the loss and pretended to still be pregnant. Ballard reportedly told her boyfriend a few days ago that she'd delivered their child.

"She had to kidnap a child now," the warrants state.

Ballard planned to kidnap a newborn and take the child to her boyfriend's house where they would raise the baby as their own, said police.

In planning for the kidnapping, she bought scrubs from Wal-Mart to pretend to be a hospital worker, the warrants say.

On Wednesday morning, Ballard drove a black Ford Expedition to Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, the county's only hospital. Wearing blue nursing scrubs, Ballard entered the hospital at about 8:30 a.m., she told police, and pretended to be an employee.

At about 9:20 a.m., she went into Room 2134 and asked the mother if she was ready for the baby to return to the nursery. The mother, 19, said she thought Ballard was an employee, and told her she was finished breast-feeding her 2-day-old daughter.

After pushing the hospital bassinet out of the room, Ballard picked up the baby, and put her inside a large brown pocketbook, said police. As Ballard walked toward the exit of the Women's Life Center, the baby's armband triggered the hospital's alarm.

The alarm caught the attention of maintenance and nursery personnel. The workers began to chase her, according to the warrants. Ballard struggled with a maintenance man and she lost her purse to him, said police.

Ballard fled the building, got into her Expedition and drove away. The worker picked up the purse and discovered a baby inside. Police said the baby was uninjured and never left the confines of the hospital.

Also inside were Ballard's identification and credit cards. Police were able to get her address from the cards and drove to her home on Lake Harbin Road.

Ballard answered the door and was taken into custody. Police said they found a variety of baby items inside the Expedition.

According to the warrants, Ballard acknowledged responsibility for her actions and expressed remorse.