A Texas woman has been arrested for the brutal murder of a mother-of-four, whose six-week-old infant she allegedly abducted and pretended was her own after the killing, police said.
Investigators began an extensive search for baby Shamali Flores after her mother, 33-year-old Carolina Flores, was found stabbed to death in her Houston home on Tuesday.
Authorities believed Shamali was likely taken by someone who had recently suffered a miscarriage or desperately wanted their own baby.
The investigation led to a southwest Houston apartment complex, where police spotted 28-year-old Erika Miranda-Alvarez, her boyfriend and an infant who appeared to be Shamali, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters.
The couple appeared to be leaving with the baby, but officers stopped and questioned them.
Investigators determined that the child was in fact baby Shamali.
Miranda-Alvarez was arrested and charged with capital murder.
She was expecting her own child in January, but suffered a miscarriage and lost the baby, Acevedo said.
But she hid the loss from her family and boyfriend and claimed she had given birth this week.
Miranda-Alvarez was friends with Flores’s brother and had known the family for five years, Acevedo said.
Investigators declined to say what led them to Miranda-Alvarez, but Acevedo praised his department and the trust built within the community.
“But for our ability to build that relationship... we wouldn’t have developed those theories early on in our investigation,” he said.
Shamali appeared unharmed and was taken to a local hospital as a precaution. She is now in the custody of Child Protective Services, officials said.
“It was a very joyous occasion for all of us when we saw that little angel just sitting there that didn't have a clue of what’s was going on,” Acevedo said. “It was a great moment. When you can find a silver lining out of the tragedy as this, a young woman who was brutally murdered, you’ve got to take what you can."
Miranda-Alvarez’s boyfriend has not been charged.
Acevedo said the investigation is ongoing, adding that his department is putting together “every piece of this complex puzzle” to ensure a conviction.
“We owe that to the family of this little baby, to her older brothers and sisters... and we obviously owe it to the deceased victim and her extended family,” he said.
Flores leaves behind four children.
“We cannot bring her back," Acevedo said. "Our detectives know that when they walked in, but once you know that a baby was missing, there wasn’t a member of this department that didn’t want to recover that baby, there wasn’t a member of the FBI that was involved that didn’t want to recover that baby... [W]e brought her back and that’s the most important part.”