Detectives: Woman accused of kidnapping baby had miscarriage

Broward County Sheriff’s Office

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – A 23-year-old woman who is charged with kidnapping her cousin’s baby at gunpoint had a miscarriage in January but told others she had given birth, detectives said.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that Stephanie Augustin was ordered during a Monday court hearing to be held without bail and to undergo a mental health evaluation.

Augustin and a 14-year-old male cousin are charged with kidnapping 2-month-old Taraji Kemp. Broward County sheriff’s detectives said in court documents that Augustin admitted taking the child during their interrogation, “stating ‘someone’ told her to do it.” They wrote that she had told people she was pregnant last summer and announced giving birth in January, but actually had a miscarriage.

Detectives said Taraji and her mother were asleep at a Fort Lauderdale home Friday night when intruders took the girl. The teen allegedly pointed a gun at the mother. His public defender, David Wheeler, said it was a BB gun.

Wheeler said Augustin manipulated him into participating, inviting him to hang out and go shopping. Instead, she drove the boy to the baby’s home and coerced him into participating in the kidnapping, Wheeler said.

“She is the chief architect behind this whole scheme,” Wheeler said. He wants the boy’s case kept in juvenile court.

Taraji was found safe Saturday at an Orlando apartment that Augustin rented. She was still in her car seat and no one else was there, detectives said.

Throughout the search Saturday, detectives were in contact with Augustin by phone but she was uncooperative, they said. She refused to meet with them or give her location, they said.

Augustin was arrested when a highway patrol trooper spotted her on the Florida’s Turnpike.

Public defender Faisal Afzal told the court Augustin has no criminal record and works at a call center.

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