By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – A woman who faked pregnancy has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a newborn infant girl in Kansas and taking her hundreds of miles away to Texas after killing the girl’s mother last week, police said on Monday.
As authorities previously disclosed, baby Sophia Gonzalez, now 10 days old, was found unharmed in Dallas on Saturday morning at the residence of her accused kidnapper, two days after she vanished from her Wichita home.
The baby was reported missing by her father on Thursday afternoon when he arrived from work to find the mother, his girlfriend Laura Abarca-Nogueda, 27, slain inside the dwelling in a case that quickly gained national media attention.
The suspect was identified by police in Wichita on Monday as Yesenia Sesmas, 34, a Dallas resident who police say was known to the mother for a few years, although authorities declined to characterize their relationship.
Police said Sesmas is originally from Texas, spent some time in Wichita and moved back to Texas over the past few months.
Wichita police homicide detective Lieutenant Todd Ojile told reporters at a news conference that an anonymous tip helped lead investigators to Sesmas’ home in Dallas, some 360 miles south of Wichita. The baby was found alive and safe and the suspect was taken into custody before dawn on Saturday.
The infant, examined at a Dallas-area hospital and given a clean bill of health, was reunited with her family hours later.
Police detectives have since determined that Sesmas had faked pregnancy during the past several months in order to claim the kidnapped child as her own, although her reasons for doing so remained under investigation, according to Ojile.
She is accused of traveling to Wichita to kill Abarca-Nogueda, abducting baby Sophia and returning to Dallas with the child.
Three other people living at the suspect’s house – her boyfriend, her son and a niece – were briefly detained for questioning and released. They have not been charged.
Sesmas was being held in a Dallas jail on a felony warrant for first-degree murder and kidnapping, and was expected to be extradited to Kansas soon, Ojile said.
The infant’s father, whose named has not been publicly revealed, was not considered a suspect, police said.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Dan Grebler)