Babysitter missing with infant

May 27, 2009 6:32:32 PM PDT
Hoke County deputies say a 17-year-old babysitter is missing with a 9-month-old infant.The teen, Renesha Shante Griner, disappeared Saturday after picking up 9-month-old Saniya Purcell from the child's house Friday.

The child's mother, Victoria Purcell, went out of town for the weekend, and when she got back, the teen and the child were gone.

"I cry every night," Purcell said. "I'm trying to deal with it."

Purcell said she suspects the babysitter is using the infant for bait.

"Her niece says she got some boy in Alabama, that she got him thinking that she was pregnant from him," Purcell explained. "And she wants him back, so [she] got him thinking it's their baby."

Authorities have posted Saniya Purcell's and Griner's pictures nationwide, and Hoke County deputies tracked the two to Columbus, Georgia.

"We found out that the 17-year-old was actually taken to the bus station in Fayetteville," Hoke County Sheriff's Office Capt. John Kivette said. "She got on a bus headed to Georgia with the baby."

Purcell told Eyewitness News that last Wednesday, Griner asked if she could keep the baby for two weeks. Purcell refused but later accepted the teen's offer to babysit this past weekend.

"I was like, 'Did you tell me you was taking my baby to Georgia?'" Purcell recalled. "She [Griner] said 'Yeah.'"

Purcell said she did not tell Griner she could take the child. "I was telling her, 'You need to bring my baby back to North Carolina ASAP,' and she hung up on me."

Whatever the reason, authorities are now treating it as a criminal case. Late Tuesday Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin ordered his investigators to take out arrest warrants charging the teenage babysitter with first-degree kidnapping.

Hoke County officials have not issued an Amber Alert for the pair because they don't believe Griner intends to hurt the infant. Amber Alert guidelines say a child must be believed to be in danger in order to issue an alert.

"At this point, there is no reason to believe that the baby has been harmed." Capt. Kivette said. "However, this is a serious case -- and we are treating it as such -- and doing everything we possibly can to get the baby back home safe."

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children posted the case on its Web site and is asking people to be on the lookout for the pair.

Anyone who has any information is asked to call the Hoke County Sheriff's Office at (910) 875-5111.


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