A former Colorado mayoral candidate is accused of drugging a new mom in Washington state in order to steal the woman’s newborn to raise as her own.
Juliette Parker, 38, who ran for mayor of Colorado Springs last year, was arrested Friday with her 16-year-old daughter after allegedly trying to kidnap a baby by pretending to be a newborn baby photographer, authorities said.
Parker allegedly advertised her photography services on Facebook, claiming that she was trying to build up her portfolio by offering free photos to new and expecting moms at their homes.
One of the women who responded said Parker came to her home three times to photograph her newborn.
“The suspect was observed taking cell phone selfies with the victim’s baby and was seen wiping her fingerprints off items she touched inside the victim’s home,” the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
During Parker’s third visit to the home, on Feb. 5, Parker’s daughter offered the victim a cupcake that immediately made her numb, drowsy and caused her to start vomiting, the victim said. The victim says she asked Parker and her daughter to leave, then called 911, telling first responders that she believed she had been drugged. She also reported that her house keys had been stolen, the sheriff’s department said.
Evidence collected with the help of search warrants indicated that Parker was planning to steal a newborn baby to raise as her own, authorities said.
Victoria Morris, a woman who recently gave birth to a baby girl, said she believes that she also nearly fell victim to Parker’s ploy.
Parker had come over to Morris’ home to take photos of her before she gave birth, Morris told KOMO News.
“She seemed off, but not like something that was alarming that I would have sent her away,” Morris said. “But she did do some odd things when she was here. When she came in the front door, she used her sleeve to open the door and she came in and she wouldn’t even sit in an actual chair. She sat on the floor.”
On Feb. 14, Morris sent Parker a message informing her of her daughter’s birth and asking when they could meet up again. Then Morris heard the news of Parker’s arrest and broke down crying.
“I just started crying and panicking. I looked out my hospital window and I could see the jail where she was being held,” she told the local station.
Since Parker’s arrest, Pierce County Detective Ed Troyer said at least a dozen women have contacted authorities to say that Parker came to their homes to take photos of their babies in recent weeks, according to The Washington Post.
It’s believed that Parker, who may have also used the names “Juliette Noel” or “Juliette Gains,” was searching for the right child and made repeat trips to homes so she’d have more photos to support her claim that the baby was her own, Troyer said.
“That way, when she shows up somewhere else, she’s got a bunch of pictures of her with the same baby,” he told the Post. “She’s establishing a timeline: ‘Here’s me and the baby a week ago. Here we are two weeks ago.’ We believe that’s the reason.”
Parker and her daughter were arrested on charges of attempted kidnapping and assault. Online records show Parker was released Sunday on $50,000 bond. She is expected in court on Tuesday afternoon.
Authorities are asking anyone who believes they were a victim of Parker’s scheme to contact the sheriff’s office.
Parker unsuccessfully ran a campaign for mayor of Colorado Springs last year. She described herself at the time as a single mother of two children who is honest and has a “good moral code and compass.”
“I have never seen a problem or situation that I couldn’t figure out with determination, perseverance, and sometimes the right amount of compassion,” she said.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter