Child-snatchers send in the clowns
Sunday 05 November 1995
A manhunt is on in Honduras after 10 infants were abducted in the past week by "a man in a clown suit". The man or men were thought to be part of a gang that sells babies to desperate, childless North American or European couples.
The pattern was the same: a clown with a jolly smile, bright nose, and gigantic shoes would approach a mother outside a shop or school. Last week - with its high point the traditional Day of the Dead, on which people dress up for parades - was the perfect opportunity.
Victims said the clown would make comical gestures as a distraction before snatching his prey and racing off in a dark pick-up truck. No trace has been found of the 10 abducted children, aged from a few months to six years old. The clown scam, now probably impossible to repeat as the manhunt intensifies, was just the latest in a series of tricks used by Honduran gangs.
Police say an average of one child a day was stolen in October and that the total for the past two years was around 300. Child rights activists in the Central American country say doctors, nurses, and cleaners at state hospitals have been involved in the child-snatching, swayed by huge sums of money.
"There are some very big fish involved in this," said Rosario Godoy, who runs the Office for the Protection of Minors in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital. The roba-chicos, child-robbers, charged North Americans or Europeans $5,000 to $30,000, (pounds 3,200 to pounds 19,000), she said. Blue-eyed babies, rare in Honduras, fetched the highest prices.
At least 25 children, including newborn babies and children visiting their mothers, had been kidnapped from Honduran hospitals this year, she said; they were sometimes smuggled out in laundry sacks.
Local lawyers working for childless North Americans or Europeans also paid poor Honduran peasant women hundreds of dollars to become pregnant by their own men, then give up the baby, Mrs Godoy added.
- 1 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for beauty pageant
- 2 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...