Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brandon baby safe after home visit from stranger

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BRANDON -- Aàmother has been left shaken but is relieved her two-month-old daughter is OK after a stranger walked into her house and cradled the girl in his arms.

When Eugenia Flores saw the man standing in her home holding her baby, she thought he was about to steal her child. The man fled the home with the baby but left her on the front lawn, to the relief of her terrified mother.

"It was scary," Flores said.

Flores is from El Salvador and her two stepsons, 15-year-old Vidal and Jesus, 8, and their father, Armando Hernandez, are from Honduras.

Hernandez and Flores met in Brandon while working at the Maple Leaf hog-processing plant. The Spanish-speaking family has made the city their home. A new addition, Lindsay, was born about two months ago.

On Friday, their lives took a frightening turn.

Flores, whose English isn't as strong as the other members of her family, shared her story on Monday with the help of Vidal, who served as translator.

Flores said she and Lindsay were home alone on Friday around 1:15 p.m. Her husband was at work and her sons were at the grocery store.

Flores was cooking in the kitchen while her daughter was seated in a small swing, which was resting in the hallway near the front door.

It was hot that afternoon and their small Brandon home is cooled by a small, wall-mounted air conditioning unit that doesn't work well. So Lindsay was placed by the front door, which was left open so she'd be cooled by the breeze.

Mom was only about six metres away and had a clear line of sight to the girl. Her back was turned as she worked at the kitchen counter, but she'd glance around now and then to check on Lindsay.

Vidal had left music playing in a neighbouring room, so Flores didn't hear the intruder enter. To her shock, when she glanced to check on her daughter, she spotted a man standing in the hallway -- the infant was cradled in one of his arms.

Flores said she cried out, "What are you doing!" and began to approach the man who she believed was trying to steal her baby.

The man looked at Flores, said nothing, and walked out the front door with the child still in his arms. Shortly after, he placed the little girl on the front lawn and ran off.

Flores picked up her daughter and watched as the man fled.

Lindsay was unharmed. In fact, she'd slept through the whole ordeal.

A language barrier may have played a role when it came to reporting the matter to police. As a result, it was more than two-and-a-half hours before Brandon police went to the house.

The family called Armando at work but he was near the end of his shift so he called police when he got home around 3:50 p.m.

Armando speaks English well and four police cars arrived at the house in about five minutes in response to his call.

No suspect has been arrested but Flores was able to give a description. Police are looking for a tall, thin aboriginal man who appears to be in his late 30s and has shoulder-length hair and a tattoo on his right arm. He was wearing black clothing.

Contrary to the police report, Flores said the man wasn't rocking the girl in a soothing manner. He was simply holding Lindsay in the crook of his arm.

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2012 A4

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