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Mom not angry at accused baby snatcher

Nancy and her parents appear on
Nancy and her parents appear on "Connie Chung Tonight."  

ABILENE, Texas (CNN) -- The mother of the infant snatched from a Wal-Mart parking lot said Thursday she harbors no anger toward the woman accused in the case.

Margarita Chavez said she is just happy to have 1-month-old Nancy Crystal back. "It's a miracle," Chavez said on CNN's "Connie Chung Tonight."

Nancy was reunited with her mother Wednesday evening, just 24 hours after being taken from the family's minivan while Margarita returned a shopping cart a few feet away.

"She's eating well. Seems like she missed her mother," Chavez said.

Chavez suffered cuts and injuries to her arm and legs after being dragged about 40 feet in a failed attempt to stop the abductor's vehicle.

Suspect 'must be mentally ill'

Paula Lynn Roach, 24, a former prison guard, appeared Thursday before Taylor County Justice of the Peace Bryan Smith to face an aggravated kidnapping charge.

Her request for the charge to be downgraded because she did not have a weapon was denied. The court set bond at $200,000.

Rather than be angry, Chavez said she seeks understanding: "I think a person that do this kind of thing must be mentally ill. I think that's her case. That's why I just 'God bless' her so she can not do that again. I'm sure she won't."

If convicted, Roach could face a maximum of 99 years, but Chavez expressed sympathy at the notion of that happening.

"I don't wish that for her," she said. "But there are laws, and if that is the law, what can I do? I'm just going to pray for her."

A parking lot surveillance video captured the abduction, showing Margarita Chavez loading her groceries and three children into her minivan and walking a few feet away to store her shopping cart.

Recounting the harrowing ordeal, Chavez said when she saw a woman taking her child and running to a car, she immediately reacted.

"I tried to pull her hair as she sat on her seat through the window," she said. "And she dragged me. Then I couldn't hold on anymore, so I fall down."

"I was very scared. My first thoughts were I was not going to see my baby again. I said, 'Why did it happen to me?'"

How authorities found Nancy

Texas authorities immediately activated the "Amber Alert" system, bringing dozens of tips in to authorities.

The search ended nearly 24 hours after it began when Hardeman County Sheriff Randy Akers followed up on a telephone tip and found a baby with a woman matching the kidnapper's description 130 miles away from Abilene in Quanah.

Tiny pierced ears helped Akers recognize little Nancy, the sheriff said.

"We got a call ... from a local informant who said this baby was in the city of Quanah," Akers said. "So my deputy and I immediately began a search for the vehicle."

They located a vehicle they thought was the one used in the abduction at a nursing home, where Roach's mother worked. The car turned out to be a similar color but not the same vehicle. In the end, though, the change in cars had no bearing on the search.

"She had carried [the baby] out to the nursing home ... and showed it off to her mother's fellow workers," Akers said.

Paula Lynn Roach  

Akers and his deputy didn't have to wait long before Roach, her mother and the baby came out and started to drive off.

"When they got back on the road, we implemented a traffic stop," the sheriff said. "The lady that kidnapped it was holding the baby. She said it was her baby, that she'd had it in a doctor's office that morning and we were just harassing her."

But Roach handed the baby over to the sheriff.

"That's when I saw the pierced ears and some of the other things that we had been given to identify it," he said.

Positive identification waited until the Abilene police arrived with Nancy Chavez' footprints -- prints that matched the baby taken from Roach.

Akers and Abilene police Sgt. Kim Vickers attributed Nancy's quick recovery to widespread information on the abduction sent out over the "Amber Alert" emergency system and through media outlets.

"This is the first time the Amber system has been used on a statewide basis. I think the results speak for themselves. I believe it had an impact on our ability to get this baby back in the time we did," said Vickers.

A few hours after her identification, Nancy was reunited with her grateful parents and other family members.

David Hullum with the Texas Rangers said Roach had signed a written confession outlining her "reasons of what she did and how she did it."

"She said there was a void she was trying to fill," Hullum told reporters at a news conference Wednesday with the parents.

Upon her arrest, authorities learned also that Roach was wanted on two minor traffic warrants in other counties.




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