U.S. Woman Allegedly Buys Baby Tries to Smuggle Out in Hand Luggage
A Utah woman who allegedly purchased a newborn from a teen mom in the Philippines and later tried to smuggle him out of the country in her hand luggage faces life in prison after being charged with human trafficking and child abuse.
Jennifer Erin Talbot, 42, is said to have arranged to adopt the six-day-old baby from the young mother who she first met online before attempting to fly home with the boy to the US on Wednesday.
Talbot, from Sandy, who is married with five children, was able to pass through the airport’s immigration counter without raising suspicions, however she was later intercepted at the gate by Delta Airlines personnel.
Clad in an orange detainee shirt and handcuffs Thursday, Talbot was paraded on national television in front of reporters as officials from the National Bureau of investigation announced her human trafficking charges.
In addition, officials said she will also be tried for child abuse and kidnapping with serious illegal detention.
Talbot kept her head low and appeared at times to be on the verge of tears throughout the parade and subsequent press conference.
She only broke her silence to say she was from Ohio, despite investigators listing her current home as an address in Utah.
The investigation bureau said Talbot presented an affidavit at the airport, allegedly from the baby’s mother, Maricris Cempron Dulap, giving consent for the baby to travel to the US, but it had not been signed by Dulap.
Officials said no government travel approval had been issued for the baby, prompting them to file human trafficking charges against Talbot.
She also allegedly told officials she was the boy’s aunt but failed to provide any documents to substantiate the claim.
Investigators are yet to determine whether any money exchanged hands between Talbot and Dulap, but say they’re continuing to investigate the alleged deal.
US Embassy officials have been notified of her arrest, and she faces life in prison and and a fine somewhere between $38,500 to $96,200 if found guilty.
‘She just wanted to give the baby a name and church blessing,’ NBI-International Airport Investigation Unit (NBI-IAIU) chief Manuel Dimaano told reporters on Thursday.
Talbot, who was raised in Ohio, has no previous criminal history in the US. She told officers she is married with ‘five special children’, though it’s unclear if they’re all biological or not.
Dulap and the baby’s father, believed to be based in Davao City, have also been charged with child abuse but remain at large.
Talbot has been married three times and currently lives with her husband Lawrence, 58, in Sandy, Utah.
She has previously lived in Virginia, Florida and Ohio, and currently works at the ZCMI Center Mall in Salt Lake County.
She had two children with her first husband, Craig Holder, one of which became central to a paternity suit in 2008.
Her eldest son, Spencer Holder, is currently serving as a US Navy sailor.
Talbot later married attorney David Pace, who represented her, but they split the same year the suit was filed.
The University of Utah alum was ready to board a Delta Air Lines flight to the United States with the baby at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Wednesday when she was halted and subjected to a bag search, officials said.
After discovering the baby in her ‘over-sized belt bag’, airline staff called immigration personnel, who arrested Talbot at the airport.
Talbot was later turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation and the baby was given to government welfare personnel.
During Thursday’s press conference, Manuel Dimaano, airport division chief for the NBI, demonstrated how Talbot attempted to transport the baby in sling bag under her arm, instead of across her chest.
‘There was really intention to conceal and sneak out the baby,’ Dimaano told reporters.
‘Based on the CCTV footage obtained, Talbot was carrying the baby inside the sling bag as if she was just carrying an ordinary shoulder bag, and unmindful of the inconvenient condition and difficult situation of the baby.’
Dimaano added that though Dulap hasn’t yet been apprehended, she has been interviewed by social welfare officers by phone.
During questioning, Talbot is said to have told investigators that Dulap was a friend of her brother’s ex-girlfriend, and that she’d been staying with her from the day the baby was born up until she attempted to fly home with the infant.
In contrast however, Dulap told officers her and Talbot met online.
Jennifer Talbot, 43, checked in for a flight to the US with the baby (pictured) inside ‘an oversized belt bag’ around her waist
Immigration chief Melvin Mabulac said they could not confirm if Talbot is the mother or guardian of the baby (pictured) since authorities did not find any travel document to indicate the infant’s information.
Officials said no government travel approval had been issued for the baby, prompting them to file human trafficking charges against her. The charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment
It’s during their online interactions that authorities believe the pair negotiated the adoption of the then-unborn child.
Talbot then flew from the US to meet Dulap in person at her Davao City home last month, where she stayed with her until the teen gave birth.
From there, the suspect apparently caught one flight from Davao to Manila with the boy, without alerting security.
But she was caught at terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport, at around 6:20 am yesterday.
Officials said the newborn had been hidden in a large bag and ‘was not declared nor presented to the immigration inspector during departure formalities.’
‘She would not have a baby in a hand-carry to be x-rayed. But she hid it at check-in and when she passed immigration counters, and then at the other x-ray to the boarding gate, then she showed it,’ Grifton Medina of the NBI told NBC.
‘That’s the time we were able to apprehend her when she passed through the next x-ray.’
The boy is said to be in ‘good health’ as he remains in hospital under the watch of the Department of Social Welfare and Development while investigations continue.
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