A woman charged with kidnapping baby Victoria from a Quebec hospital 16 hours after the child was born is breathing with the help of a ventilator and has yet to regain consciousness since her dramatic arrest.
Prosecutors filed two charges of kidnapping late Wednesday afternoon against Valérie Poulin Collins, 21, who has remained in hospital since Monday night, when Victoria was taken from her mother’s arms at a maternity ward in Trois-Rivières, Que., by a woman posing as a nurse. Police returned the baby to her mother unharmed later in the evening.
Friends and acquaintances of Ms. Poulin Collins have emerged to tell the story of a troubled woman who has fought mental-health issues and recently experienced trauma, including a serious car accident, a breakup, the death of a dear friend and suicide attempts.
Ms. Poulin Collins, taken to hospital Monday night with unspecified health problems, appears to be in worse shape than initially revealed. Quebec Crown prosecutor Marie-Eve Paquet told reporters Wednesday that the woman is in stable condition, but “unconscious and intubated” after she reportedly took large amounts of medication before her arrest.
“It’s impossible for her to speak to her lawyer, or to understand the upcoming legal procedures,” Ms. Paquet said. The charges were filed anyway at Trois-Rivières court late Wednesday.
Police investigators arrested the woman but have not interviewed her. “We are still waiting for the green light from her doctors so we can meet her and have her appear in court,” said Hugo Fournier, spokesman for the Sûreté du Québec.
Ms. Poulin Collins is accused of posing as a nurse executing a routine weigh-in of the baby to persuade the girl’s mother, Mélissa McMahon, and her husband, Simon Boisclair, to hand over the child. The suspect allegedly walked out of a Trois-Rivières hospital Monday night and kept the baby for three hours.
Ms. Poulin Collins, who listed her occupation on Facebook as a cashier at a convenience store and a Tim Hortons, was described as very lonely, desperate to have children and crying out for attention.
The woman enlisted the help of friend Jolaine Licata to go shopping for diapers at a local Wal-Mart before stopping for a bite to eat at McDonalds, La Presse reported. She told Ms. Licata she had adopted the child from some 16-year-old parents.
Four amateur sleuths acting on an Amber Alert they saw on Facebook tracked down the baby and her alleged kidnapper, and called police.
“She was too happy, too content, too excited. She had an obsession with having a child,” said Ms. Licata, adding that Ms. Poulin Collins often complained she was unable to have a child and that she was pained to watch friends and her sisters with their babies.
Police and neighbours say Ms. Poulin Collins’s red Toyota Yaris had a “baby on board” sign and her apartment was equipped with other gear to care for an infant. She has no children.
“She took care of my boy like he was her own,” Ms. Licata told the paper, adding her attention got to be unhealthy and she eventually stopped having her babysit.
Long-time friend Béatrice Gingras said Ms. Poulin Collins came from a family of six children and had a happy childhood, but changed drastically after a car accident, which left her heavily medicated.
“I’m convinced she didn’t want to hurt anyone,” Ms. Gingras told TVA Nouvelles. “She wanted to show she could take care of someone, but obviously she had a hard time taking care of herself.”
Prosecutors charged Ms. Poulin Collins with two different kidnapping offences under the Criminal Code, including one that carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.