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Baby-snatcher caught in Santa Maria

February 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A baby was abducted Friday afternoon, then found several miles away. The statewide search ended just before 4 p.m. Friday. A woman was taken into custody.Authorities located a woman and the infant northwest of Santa Barbara in the city of Santa Maria at Leianna Arzate's home.

The suspect was arrested and the baby was returned to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital to be reunited with his mother. A second suspect was reportedly arrested late Friday night.

The 1-day-old baby boy, Julian, was born at 8 a.m. Friday at Cottage Hospital.

At about 1:30 p.m. a female suspect went to the third floor of the hospital, where the baby was kept, and concealed the boy in a handbag under blankets.

The suspect was seen wearing pink hospital scrubs, and appeared to be posing as a hospital employee. Police say that suspect is 33-year-old Leianna Patricia Arzate.

Arzate left the hospital and was seen in a nearby parking lot changing clothes.

The Santa Barbara Police Department immediately issued an Amber Alert. Information with the suspect's description and the suspect's vehicle were posted on freeways signs throughout California.

Police say that Azarte was described driving a blue-colored Chevy Impala and was last seen wearing pink hospital scrubs before she was apprehended.

Police caught up with Azarte and arrested them just before 4 p.m. Friday. The baby was safely recovered.

Authorities say there was surveillance video of the suspect leaving the hospital. It was not known if authorities used that video to find her.