Friends and family were suspicious when Julie Corey said she went home five hours after giving birth. They noticed the newborn's umbilical cord was tied with a ribbon, not a clamp. And they were puzzled when she appeared to be breast-feeding the infant girl under a blanket with a bottle nearby.
Then they heard Corey's former neighbor had been found dead with a baby cut from her womb.
Corey, 35, of Worcester, Mass., was ordered held on $2 million bail in New Hampshire on Thursday, one day after being found with a 4-pound baby girl at a homeless shelter.
Appearing in Concord District Court via video from jail, Corey said little during the hearing and did not waive extradition to be brought back to Massachusetts to face kidnapping charges. Judge Gerard Boyle ordered all police affidavits in the case sealed and scheduled a hearing for Aug. 30.
Corey is accused of kidnapping an infant carried by Darlene Haynes, a 23-year-old mother of three who had been eight months' pregnant and was found dead Monday in her Worcester apartment. Authorities say she had head trauma, but an exact cause of death has not been determined. The missing fetus was discovered during an autopsy.
Neighbors say Corey and her boyfriend, Alex Dion, used to live in the apartment building where Haynes' body was found.
Dion's relatives told the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester that they met the baby at a family gathering Saturday, and something didn't seem quite right. They told the newspaper Corey said she had been in labor for 20 minutes and returned home five hours later. She appeared to be breast-feeding under a blanket although there was a bottle of formula nearby. The baby's umbilical cord also did not look like it had been cut by a doctor, they said.
Police confirmed the baby was found with a ribbon wrapped around her umbilical cord.
Corey has not been charged in Haynes' death, and Worcester, Mass., District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said investigators are still trying to determine who was involved.
They also want to know if Corey really was pregnant.
"She had presented herself as pregnant, and as early as last Friday she did have (Haynes') baby with her and was presenting it to family and friends as her own," Early said.
The baby was in good health and is in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, Early said. A custody hearing is scheduled for Monday in Worcester Juvenile Court. Early said several people are seeking custody of the baby.
Haynes and her boyfriend, Roberto Rodriguez, were friends with Corey and Dion. Dion — who was with Corey at the homeless shelter in New Hampshire — was taken into custody and later released to a family member. Haynes had a restraining order against her boyfriend, and her landlord said he moved out of the apartment last month.
Earlier this month, Corey was arrested on assault and battery charges after Dion told police she had beaten him. Dion told authorities involved in that case that Corey was nine months pregnant, Early said.
Haynes' uncle Karl Whitney, acting as a family spokesman, said it was too early to condemn Corey.
"At this point in time, I've got to be grateful to her because she kept the baby alive," he said.
The family is trying to make funeral arrangements while they sort through custody issues.
"This has been one of the most horrific ordeals that our family has ever had to deal with," he said.
Agnes Brady, a neighbor, described Corey as very friendly and recalled her once baking a lasagna for all the neighbors in the apartment building. Brady's son, Randy LaRose, said Corey had an 11-year-old son from a previous relationship who also lived in the apartment.
Corey, Dion and the baby arrived at the homeless shelter in Plymouth, about 40 miles north of Concord, Tuesday night, director Catherine Bentwood confirmed. She said the girl looked comfortable. Corey identified herself as the mother and agreed to have the baby seen by a local pediatrician.
Bentwood said the shelter received a call about 5 p.m. Wednesday asking if staffers could keep Corey there. Officers arrived shortly afterward and arrested her.