Thursday, October 1, 2009

Nashville stabbing victim wants her kidnapped baby back

With no suspects, police seek witness By Kate Howard • THE TENNESSEAN • October 1, 2009 Hours before Maria Gurrolla was stabbed and her newborn baby stolen, the young mother was followed by a dark, four-door Kia Spectra. Police now know the driver of that sedan was not Lisa Sampson, who was identified as a person of interest just hours after the abduction and tracked down in upstate New York. Sampson, of Lebanon, did not have the baby and may not have even been in Tennessee when now 6-day-old Yair Carillo was taken from his South Nashville home. That discovery came nearly 18 hours after the abduction. Police were back to their first clue: the dark sedan resembling a police car that Gurrolla saw outside her East Ridge Drive house, and the woman who posed as an immigration agent threatening to arrest her. "It is vitally important that the community be on the lookout for a woman who has a child inexplicably — who has not been pregnant and suddenly has a child," Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said. Gurrolla met with the media on Wednesday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to tell reporters about the woman who attacked her. The 30-year-old mother had swollen eyes and a long cut on her cheek. Bandages covered stab wounds on her neck, and she was wrapped in a blanket that obscured the rest of the stab wounds she suffered Tuesday. "I was attacked by a white woman,'' Gurrolla said in Spanish. Her cousin, Norma Rodriguez, interpreted. "I don't know the person that did that. I've never seen her before.'' The search is focused on the driver of the dark colored Kia Spectra that appeared to follow Gurrolla as she left a Walmart on Nolensville Road on Tuesday. Police describe the driver of that car as a possible witness. Gurrolla left the hospital with Yair on Monday night, and Tuesday morning she went to the Walmart at Nolensville Road and Harding Place. When she pulled into the parking lot at about 11 a.m., the Spectra, possibly blue or purple, parked nearby. Gurrolla took the baby inside, but the driver of the Kia never got out. When Gurrolla left, the car pulled out behind her. "We have no evidence this Kia was involved in the abduction," Aaron said. "We need to find out more information about this Kia and its driver." The car appeared to have an out-of-state license plate, Aaron said, though the number was not clear on the surveillance video. Police are asking anyone who might know the driver of this car to call police. Gurrolla has been arrested once in Nashville about 10 years ago for driving with a suspended license. Her immigration status isn't clear. A spokesman with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said he couldn't release any information because of federal privacy laws. The child's father, Antonio Carillo, lives with the family and was on the scene Tuesday night speaking to investigators. "We don't have any indication at this point that this is anything but a stranger child abduction," Metro police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford said. Amber alert for Tenn. As of Wednesday night, an Amber alert had been issued only for Tennessee. If information is developed that the woman may have taken the baby elsewhere, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will ask other states to issue the alert, TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said. Gurrolla remained hospitalized late Wednesday, recovering from her injuries. She suffered nine stab wounds, many of them very deep, and a collapsed lung, said William Dutton, Gurrolla's doctor. Gurrolla also had a complicated birth and signs of that are still visible, Dutton said. "She is in stable condition and doing well now,'' Dutton said. Gurrolla said the baby had been lying on the sofa when the woman arrived at her doorstep. The stranger told Gurrolla she was an immigration agent and she was there to arrest her. Gurrolla asked the woman for identification. The blonde, heavyset woman struck her, then attacked her with a butcher knife and began to stab her. She never said anything about Yair. Gurrolla managed to get to a neighbor's house to ask for help. When she and the neighbor returned, the woman and the baby were gone. Gurrolla's 3-year-old daughter was still in the home and was unharmed. Gurrolla's mouth tightened when she spoke about her baby: he has a full head of hair. He's chubby, with big cheeks and big eyes. Tears rose in her eyes. She was asked what she would say to the woman who attacked her and took her son. "She says for her to reflect,'' Rodriguez said. "She needs her baby back.'' Youth Services detectives retraced her steps looking for clues, and Gurrolla is working with a sketch artist to develop a composite of the suspect. Contact Kate Howard at 615-726-8968 or writer Nicole Young contributed to this report.

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