Great Neck, NY – “Mofsim after mofsim,” was the way 25 year old Shmuli Tuvel of Crown Heights described the miraculous return of his kidnapped sister in law, six month old Esti, abducted yesterday morning by a former maid from the home of his parents Rabbi Yitzchak and Tamar Chayempour in Great Neck.
The Chayempours, who are shluchim in Great Neck and run a summer camp there, hired 53 year old Gloria Suarez for a temporary summer position. A native of Uruguay, Suarez’s duties included only cooking and cleaning, not babysitting, and the agency that made the placement had done background checks which showed no problems of any sort.
Suarez’s employment ended with the Chayempours this past Friday, but she repeatedly asked her former employers to let her stay on for just one more day, while she waited for her new apartment to be ready.
In retrospect, there were numerous signs that something was amiss, according to Tuvel. Suarez spoke frequently about how she had always wanted to have children of her own. She frequently offered to take the infant for a walk although babysitting was never part of her job and offered to buy formula for baby Esti after her termination last Friday. Suarez, who was planning to return to Uruguay in two weeks, had moved her belongings out of the Chayempour’s Great Neck home, but claimed she needed to stay with them because she didn’t have the key to her new apartment.
“She had lived in the same apartment for the past eight years,” said Tuvel in an exclusive interview with VIN News. “Why would she suddenly take a new apartment just days before she was due to leave the country?”
The drama began yesterday morning at approximately 9:30 AM, when after spending a sleepless night with the infant, Mrs. Chayempour went to take a nap. Seizing the opportunity, Suarez took the baby, a bottle of Cholov Yisroel baby formula, two bottles and left the house carrying the baby in her arms.
Twenty minutes later the miracles began to unfold.
While normally Rabbi Chayempour would not have been in Great Neck that time of day, he was returning from a bris when he saw Suarez walking down Middle Neck Road, with the baby in her arms. Questioning Suarez, she informed him that she was going to a nearby CVS.
Realizing that something was amiss, Rabbi Chayempour made a quick u-turn only to discover that Suarez was nowhere to be found.
Rabbi Chayempour searched for the pair for one hour with his three sons before contacting the Nassau County Police, who were reluctant to consider the case a kidnapping after such a short period of time.
Undaunted, the Chayempour family, along with volunteers rounded up on Facebook and via email, began to canvas the area, hoping that the baby toting Suarez, with her unique long, unkempt silvery hair had caught someone’s attention.
Thankfully she had and as the Chayempours managed to trace Suarez’s footstep, police joined in the search which led from a bus ride, to a local park, to a taxi ride and finally to a Roslyn train station.
Police found the pair at the train station, but Suarez who had attempted to disguise the baby’s appearance by dressing her as a boy in a blue outfit, whose long sleeves covered a very distinctive birthmark on the baby’s arm, insisted that the baby was hers. The Cholov Yisroel formula, with its Hebrew stickers removed was also found in Suarez’s possession.
Suarez refused to surrender the child to the authorities, but was subdued by police and placed under arrest. She will be arraigned today at the county courthouse in Hempstead.
“This was truly chasdei Hashem,” said Tuvel. “The first leads came in literally moments after my mother in law placed a call to the Rebbe’s Ohel.”
The Chayempours are extraordinarily grateful to have Esti back home just two and a half hours after her abduction.
“My in laws want this story to be publicized,” said Tuvel. “While my mother in law never used her maid as a babysitter, there are people who sometimes leave their kids home all day with the maid. People to be more aware of the dangers of leaving children with their cleaning help.”
According to Police, Suarez will be charged with second-degree kidnapping, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a minor and obstructing government administration.