Baby Found; Accused Jailed

An unemployed 33-year-old woman with four children of her own appeared in court Tuesday, facing charges of kidnapping an hours-old infant from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital just after noon on Friday. Leianna Arzate-whose arraignment hearing was continued-is accused of taking the seven-hour-old known as “Baby Julian” from the maternity ward in a bag, causing the hospital to go on lockdown for almost two hours. Arzate, however, apparently had already taken off in a Chevy Impala. Witnesses saw a woman matching the suspect’s description changing clothes in nearby Oak Park, but police were unable to immediately locate the car. Tracking Arzate’s cell phone eventually led authorities to a Santa Maria residence, where police there arrested the woman and the baby was found safe. Baby Julian-his parents’ first child-was reunited with his parents just seven hours after he was taken, and he and his mother were discharged the next day. At this point it is unclear how Arzate may have reached the child, but Cottage officials said the breach was being taken “extremely seriously.” An investigation is underway. Authorities have determined there is no connection between Arzate and the parents of the child.

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