PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — A Pierce County woman is expected in court Tuesday on charges she drugged a woman in an attempt to steal her newborn child, and now we're hearing from other mothers who encountered the suspect.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Department said the 38-year-old suspect posed as a photographer and used community Facebook groups to advertise free photoshoots for newborns in exchange for an opportunity to build her portfolio.
Gabby Romias is due to give birth next week but originally thought her daughter was coming in late January or early February. She was so excited when she heard about the chance to get newborn photos done for free. She talked with the suspect and everything was ready to go for when she went into labor.
“I was supposed to contact her after, I tell the hospital I'm on the way and she was going to meet me there,” Romias said.
Gabby calls this child a "rainbow baby," a term used for pregnancy after the loss of another child.
"I had lost my first daughter in 2017 and this birth is so emotional and to think I almost let someone like that around my family, it's kind of hard,” she explained.
Detective Ed Troyer, with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, said the free photoshoots were just a ploy for the suspect to get access to newborns.
Since releasing the information Friday, the sheriff's department has heard from more people who say the suspect contacted them.
The suspect, and her 16-year-old daughter, are currently behind bars in Pierce County on charges that they allegedly drugged one mother. Det. Troyer said evidence indicates the suspect went to that woman's home several times possibly laying the groundwork to take the baby.
“She had been there a couple of times taking selfies and pictures with the infant, trying to establish a timeline in case she was to take the baby, that it was hers because she had photos leading up to this,” Det. Troyer explained.
Det. Troyer said the suspect rejected mothers with baby boys who asked for photoshoots because she seemed only interested in those who had girls 5 weeks or younger, or in some cases girls who hadn't been born yet.
KING 5 spoke with another mother who was struggling financially during her pregnancy and asked for help through a community group. She said the suspect contacted her and said she could help with somewhere to live.
“We believe she was targeting people that most people wouldn't notice if there was a problem, intentionally targeting easy victims," Det. Troyer explained.
Romias is so glad her daughter’s due date took a little longer than she initially expected. “I thank every guardian angel looking after her (daughter). She (the suspect) got caught yesterday and at least we avoided that,” she said.
Romias hopes by sharing her story others will think twice when offered something for free, “I have never felt so relieved and blessed and scared at the same time."
She said she's heartbroken for the other mother who had to go through so much but grateful she had the courage to call the police.