A babysitter in Texas has pleaded guilty to kidnapping a 1-year-old boy and pretending the baby was hers.
Wendy Hernandez, a 35-year-old woman living near Fort Worth, is scheduled to attend a sentencing hearing in February, where her guilty plea and acceptance of responsibility could result in a reduction of the possible life sentence she faces, reports KXAS.
However, court documents indicate she could be an undocumented immigrant and could possibly face deportation -- likely after she completes her sentence.
The incident occurred on April 29, when Hernandez took baby Jeremias Portillo with her on what she reportedly told his mom, Ana Lilian Escobar, was a day trip to visit her aunt in Plano, Texas.
Hernandez had been babysitting Jeremias a couple of times a week for a handful of months. Escobar told KXAS in Spanish she "considered [Hernandez] a part of [the] family."
Things took an unexpected turn after Hernandez didn't return that afternoon like she had agreed to. Instead, she phoned Escobar to say there were fierce storms in the area and she was worried it would not be safe to drive, so she and the baby were going to stay in Plano for the night.
But after that, she stopped answering phone calls and text messages.
"The next morning she was going to return, but in fact, she didn't return," Escobar recounted.
Escobar said she had already been worried about her son staying the night in Plano.
"In that moment, honestly, I was thinking the worst," Escobar explained.
She and her husband called police, who located the woman Hernandez said was her aunt.
That woman told detectives she was Hernandez's friend, though they were not related. Hernandez had not visited the woman's home, but had contacted the woman and asked her to hide the babysitter's "true whereabouts," officers noted in their arrest warrant.
After that, police tracked down Hernandez in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she was with her ex-boyfriend. Officers then arrested Hernandez and returned Jeremias to his mother three days after he vanished.
"It was the happiest day of my life," said Escobar.
No one was expecting Jeremias' absence, but what's even more alarming is what the babysitter planned to do with the boy; according to investigators, Hernandez told her ex-boyfriend that Jeremias was her baby.
The ex-boyfriend told authorities he believed Hernandez, since she reportedly faked a pregnancy after they split and "would frequently update him on the progress of her pregnancy," according to the arrest warrant.
"[The boyfriend] stated that it was his and Hernandez's intention to live together as a family so that he could have a relationship with his son," the arrest warrant states.
Police did not arrest the boyfriend.
Approximately 2,000 children go missing every day, according to Slate. The vast majority of those cases involve family members abducting the child, while many involve acquaintances running off with the child.