|You get thankful and sentimental like that
when both are literally stolen from you -- and then,
miraculously and heroically, returned.
It was an excruciating time for this family back 14 years
ago this coming Christmas. If anybody has any understanding
of what the Sudbury family, whose baby was plucked out of
the maternity ward Wednesday, is going through it is the
"The problem is after your baby is found, it's not over,"
Diana Walsh said yesterday of the trauma. "You still have
stuff to go through. Any major event like that changes the
course of your life."
To have the joy of a newborn, to have her kidnapped and
then have her rescued is an awful lot for parents to handle.
It was a hell of an 11-hour roller-coaster for them and for
the whole region.
As one of the reporters who covered this I can tell you
it was some crisis -- and a snapshot into the worst of
society meeting some of the best.
Flashback to Dec. 23, 1993. Before there was an Amber
Alert there was a Shelby Alert.
Word spread fast that a woman dressed as a nurse had
entered the maternity area of Burlington's Joseph Brant
Hospital and fled with a bundle. Just like that, 5-day-old
Baby Shelby was gone -- vanished with some stranger whose
identity was as much a mystery as was her motive.
Shelby's parents Diana and Glenn, brother Michael, now
21, and sister Caitlin, now 19, were beyond mortified -- as
was the whole community, which immediately went to work to
find this little girl. Police, bus drivers, cab drivers,
commuters and pedestrians turned over every stone.
It was two women working in a drug store who thought a
woman buying different kinds of baby formula didn't sit
right. They passed the tip on to Halton Regional Police Sgt.
Lee-Ann Ansell and Det.-Const. Chris Perrin, both of whom
were off shift but had come in to help search.
Smartly they entered a nearby motel room and found Baby
Shelby under the covers in the bed and the suspect trying to
hide behind the curtains. The mystery was solved. The baby
was saved and the suspect arrested. They are heroes of the
highest order -- as were Judith Good and Kathleen Langdon of
the Big-V drug store.
The headlines read The Christmas Miracle!
Baby Shelby was a nice Christmas present to the region.
In 2007 Baby Shelby is now 13.
"She's a young lady now," said her mom. "She will be 14
on Dec. 18."
The ninth grader at Cardinal Newman Secondary School
considers herself just a regular kid but does get a kick
that she was at one time Canada's most famous newborn. "It
is strange," she said last night. "I have the knowledge of
it but I don't think my life has really been all that
STAY IN TOUCH
Although she does still stay in touch with Ansell, Perrin
and Det. Doug Ford, a lot of her friends don't even know
about the story which doesn't come up on a daily basis.
Although she does not let what happened rule her life,
she said she does consider her parents' fear and goes out of
her way to try to lower their anxiety. "I can't imagine what
they went through, so I try to be careful," she said.
She wouldn't want them to go through it again. Diana said
she appreciates that.
"I am just glad she doesn't have the memories I have,"
As far as reliving it, Diana said, you actually do every
time you hear of a child gone missing. This case in Sudbury
was even more heightened in her consciousness since it had
such similar circumstances. "I was so worked up about it,"
said Diana. "It was disturbing."
It brought it all back and it was so horrific, she shut
off her TV, and did not turn it or her radio on in the
morning. "I just was too afraid," she said of what she might
When I told her that the baby had been located and that
arrests had been made she said loudly, "Thank God."
I was feeling the same way Thursday night, en route to
Sudbury, when I heard the news from OPP Commissioner Julian
Fantino. "As a grandfather myself I am so relieved," he
said. "One of the successes of this is the Amber Alert."
He is right since with its help, two suspects are in
But although everybody's happy, Diana Walsh warns that
upcoming proceedings will be very tough on the baby's
family. I remember well the pain she went through at the
trial of Shelby's abductor Karen Susan Hill, who had a
bizarre back story of many aliases, running from justice and
of pretending to be nine-months pregnant.
When it was settled, Hill, then 48, was sentenced to
serve seven years in prison for what Justice Patrick Lesage
called "an evil crime." Hill served her full sentence and
was later extradited to the United States on other legal
matters. Her whereabouts is unknown.
The Walshes don't worry she could sneak back into their
lives but do acknowledge the damage she caused is lifelong.
With this latest case, while most people can't imagine
what the infant's parents are going through, Diana Walsh
I will never forget Diana Walsh telling the court in her
victim-impact statement March 21, 1994 that "I was so sure
that she was dead ... in a dumpster or a snowbank."
Those were a terrifying and soul-altering 11 hours that
have left their scars. On the bright side, she gets up every
morning, sees her daughter and remembers it is Christmas