Missing infant returns to NC

May 29, 2009 9:23:42 AM PDT
Authorities located a 17-year-old babysitter and a 9-month-old infant in Alabama. Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said both were found Thursday around 7 p.m. in Opp, Alabama.

The teen, Renesha Shante Griner, disappeared Saturday after picking up Saniya Purcell from the child's house Friday.

Eyewitness News learned authorities went to the house of Griner's boyfriend in Alabama Thursday evening. Authorities spoke with Griner and her boyfriend and question both about the whereabouts of 9-month-old Saniya.

When asked if Griner was the child's mother, she confessed the baby did not belong to her. Authorities said when her boyfriend heard the news, he began crying.

Authorities said Griner had been stringing the boyfriend and his family on for more than a year and was sending them baby pictures. The boyfriend's family accepted Griner and the baby into their family and was making financial arrangements for them to relocate to Alabama.

Sheriff Peterkin said Griner never had any intentions of returning home with Saniya.

The Hoke County Sheriff's Office drove Victoria Purcell, the baby's mother, to Alabama Thursday. They returned to NC Friday.

The county said it had to accompany Purcell in order to keep Saniya from being placed into DSS custody.

Last Saturday Purcell went out of town for the weekend, and when she got back, the teen and her baby were gone.

In an effort to locate the pair, authorities posted Saniya's and Griner's pictures nationwide, and Hoke County deputies originally tracked the two to Columbus, Georgia.

Purcell told Eyewitness News earlier in the week she suspected the babysitter was 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."

Purcell said last Wednesday Griner asked if she could keep the baby for two weeks. Purcell originally refused, but later accepted the teen's offer to babysit over the 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."

Earlier this week, Sheriff Peterkin ordered his investigators to take out arrest warrants charging Griner with first-degree kidnapping.

Hoke County officials never issued an Amber Alert for the pair because they didn't believe Griner intended to hurt the infant. Amber Alert guidelines say a child must be believed to be in danger in order to issue an alert.


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