Girl kidnapped during house fire is reunited with mother after six years

Click to follow
The Independent US

A six-year-old girl who was thought to have died in a fire when she was baby - but was, in fact, kidnapped - has been returned to her mother after being spotted at a birthday party, .

A six-year-old girl who was thought to have died in a fire when she was baby - but was, in fact, kidnapped - has been returned to her mother after being spotted at a birthday party, .

Luzaida Cuevas, 31, and the child she had named Delimar Vera, were officially reunited on Monday afternoon at the local authority offices in Burlington County, New Jersey. Yesterday her mother took the girl back to her home in Philadelphia.

The child, dressed in a blue hooded jacket and pink trousers, giggled as she entered the house. She was thought to have died in a house fire in 1997, when she was 10 days old. Ms Cuevas escaped the blaze with her other children and investigators assumed the baby's body had been consumed by the flames.

But in January Ms Cuevas was at a children's birthday party when she noticed that one of the youngsters bore a striking resemblance to her own.

Ms Cuevas said: "When she smiled, when she was a baby, she drew a dimple, and the little girl, she smiled, and the dimple was there." Ms Cuevas contacted the police and an investigation eventually led to DNA tests that proved that she and her former partner, Pedro Vera, were the child's parents.

Police have accused Carolyn Correa, of snatching the 10-day-old girl from her cot in December 1997, setting fire to the house to cover her crime and then raising the infant as her own. Ms Correa has been charged with arson and kidnapping.

Ms Cuevas and Mr Vera, who are no longer a couple, were awarded legal custody of their daughter last Friday. The three have met several times to get acquainted and to prepare for the child's transition to her mother's home.

Her parents will try to alleviate any distress and confusion by calling her by the name she was given by her alleged kidnapper: Aaliyah Hernandez.

Ms Cuevas's lawyer, Alexander Murphy, said: "Luz is taking a very private approach to this. It's been exhausting for her and for everyone, and she just wants to be able to focus completely on her daughter."

Comments