The couple appeared in a Northern
Ontario courtroom Friday charged with child abduction.
Detective Sergeant Richard Witty of the
Kirkland Lake OPP detachment confirmed that Ms. Batisse had been
pregnant before her arrest on Thursday. He said Sudbury police
are still investigating what happened to that pregnancy, and
Ms. Batisse grew up in Matachewan, a
Northern Ontario hamlet west of Kirkland Lake. Until two years
ago, relatives said, she worked in the band office at
Timiskaming First Nation, east of the Ontario-Quebec boundary.
“She's a smart person,” said her uncle,
Walter Renaud. “She's a very nice person. I was really surprised
when I heard what had happened.”
Mr. Presseault said Ms. Batisse's
daughters, aged 6 and 8, are with him and his wife.
The baby's parents also released a
“As everyone can well imagine, this has
been a very busy time for us,” wrote the Sudbury couple, who
have one other child. “We are happy that the situation is over
and our child is safe.”
Police said that on Thursday at around 1
p.m., the baby's mother went to the bathroom and when she
returned, her daughter was gone.
Around the same time, a member of the
hospital's cleaning staff noticed a woman dressed like a nurse
going out the 's main entrance with a baby. She alerted other
The hospital issued a “code yellow” and
went into lockdown. Police were called at 1:08. Blockades went
up on roads leading out of Sudbury, and security video images of
the woman were circulated.
“Although we didn't have the identity,
we had an image,” acting Inspector Robert Keetch said.
Soon, Sudbury police began fielding
calls from residents of Kirkland Lake who said they knew the
woman in the picture, and from police officers in North Bay,
Kirkland Lake and Timiskaming Reserve.
Ms. Batisse and Mr. Schram were
“previously known” to police, Insp. Keech said.
Based on the tips, police tracked down
Ms. Batisse and Mr. Schram at their Kirkland Lake home.
Ms. Batisse had been living with Mr.
Presseault's twin brother, but recently moved in with Mr.
Schram, Mr. Presseault said.
Citing a friend, CTV News reported last
night that Ms. Batisse looked after her father until he died of
cancer last year, and that she was diagnosed with cancer herself
after his death.
Police said neither of the accused is
connected to the baby's parents. They would not give details of
their allegations against Mr. Schram.
The baby was surrendered without
incident, Insp. Keech said, and was back in her parents' arms by
Cathy Nahirny of the National Centre of
Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va., said that
most women who take someone else's child are of childbearing age
and have either miscarried or are unable to have children. Many
are afraid that their partners will leave because they lost the
“One of the prime motivations is that
she wants to hold on to that partner,” she said.
Ms. Nahirny said the women will often
pretend to be pregnant right up to their due date, then snatch a
baby. Men are rarely involved, she said.
Since 1983, about 250 infants in the
United States – between 12 and 18 a year – have been abducted by
strangers, Ms. Nahirny said. About three babies have been
snatched from Canadian hospitals in the past 15 years.
“It's extremely rare,” said RCMP
Corporal Julie Gagnon of the national missing children's
Sudbury police said Friday that Ms.
Batisse changed her clothes three times before she left the
She and Mr. Schram will be remanded to a
Sudbury court on Monday.
Administrators at St. Joseph's Health
Centre said they are reviewing their security policies,
including some that staff do not always follow, such as wearing
photo ID badges.
Police say they are still trying to
determine how one, or both, of the accused bypassed road blocks
that were erected within 45 minutes of the 911 call.