Woman arrested after kidnapping her own baby from hospital

FRESNO, Calif. -- A Merced mother is facing charges after police say she stuffed her newborn into a duffel bag and kidnapped the child from the hospital.

On Tuesday, Stephanie Belden was arrested at her home along I Street where police found the one-day-old infant just minutes after receiving the call.

"They ended up forcing entry into the house because they could see the child inside and were worried that the child was in danger," said Lt. Jay Struble.

Angela Orozco lives feet away from where the child was found and says several police cars pulled up to the area and then saw a woman with a child.

"I can't imagine a worse pain than taking your child away, but if it wasn't right to do that. I think it rightful they take the baby away," said Orozco.

Police reports say officers met with Belden three hours prior to tell her the child was going to be detained. Belden tested positive for meth during childbirth.

"The biological mother wasn't very happy with that went back up, made her way into the maternity ward and cut off the alarm bracelet off the newborn baby--put the newborn baby in a duffel bag, and walked out of the hospital," said Lt. Struble.

A nurse quickly noticed both the mother and child were gone. Court documents say Belden pried the tag off the baby's umbilical cord which could have caused the baby to bleed to death.

People at the property where Belden was hiding, deny the baby was in a duffel bag and say Belden was never told the baby was going to be detained.

The newborn was returned to the hospital and the mother is in jail facing child endangerment and kidnapping charges.
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