Teen admits to snatching cousin’s baby – then abandoning it on nearby lawn

Some say there’s more to this story than meets the eye; but at least one relative says the kidnapping charge is trumped up …

It’s now quiet at the Cedar Tree Apartments, between SE Stark and  E. Burnside Street – but this was the scene of considerable police activity when a baby was reported missing in the early morning darkness.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“Being able to hold a baby was just fantastic,” Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Officer Kevin Machio told reporters the morning of March 5, after recovering the shivering four-month-old infant from the front lawn of a Hazelwood neighborhood home.

The incident started at 2:02 a.m. that morning, when police responded to the report of a missing baby at the Cedar Tree Apartments, at NE148th Avenue and E. Burnside Street.

Responding to the report of a missing baby, taken from the mother’s home, police into the outer Hazelwood area.

“Numerous officers were dispatched to the scene,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson, at 6:14 a.m. that morning.

Through questioning four relatives, detectives learned that the Angel Lee, the baby’s mother, had left her infant son in a car seat while taking a shower. They also were told that a niece, 17-year-old Kabriana Harper, left the apartment – perhaps with the baby.

While police detained Harper, officers fanned out throughout the neighborhood, looking for the missing infant.

Just after daybreak, “Kristin G.”, via @nomadpdx, sent a Tweet that soon went viral: “So. Found a baby on my lawn this morning. That’s new. The baby is fine. Cold, but safe.”

Simpson followed up, “The missing four-month-old boy was safely located in the front yard of a residence in the 400 block of NE 139th Avenue. Medical personnel have transported the baby to a Portland hospital for evaluation.”

This is a photo of 17-year-old Kabriana Harper, from her Facebook page.

Portland Police Missing Persons Detectives charged Kabriana Harper with one count of Kidnap in the Second Degree, a Measure 11 crime, Simpson revealed later that morning.

According to court records, Harper later admitted she took the infant, but left him in a stranger’s front yard after relatives began calling her cell phone, asking her to return to the apartment.

An ambulance rushes the infant to a hospital for medical care.

An unspecified fear for the baby’s safety in its mother’s custody is why Harper says she took the infant, it came out in court – and “panic” was the reason she dumped it – wearing a “blouse and diapers”, one neighbor said – several blocks away.

Harper did not enter a plea in court, and the judge remanded her to the Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Home until her next hearing, which is scheduled for March 13.

But, after the court proceeding, Harper’s uncle, Eugene McCullough told reporters that having “her all locked up” was “ludicrous”; adding that, to his knowledge, she’s never been in trouble before this incident.

Although cold, the infant found in front of this outer East Portland home was said to be in good condition.

Simpson later requested, “Detectives are asking anyone who may have been a witness to this incident, or who may have additional information about this case, to contact Detective Mike Weinstein, Portland Police Bureau – Missing Persons Unit, at 503-823-0446 or Mike.Weinstein@PortlandOregon.gov.”

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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