PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Her life began with the white hot focus of breaking news.
Macayla Rose was about 11 hours old when she was abducted from her mother’s Women & Infants Hospital room by a woman posing as a nurse.
Providence police squad cars rolled up to the hospital on an April afternoon in 1991 to investigate a shocker.
Macayla Batista, now 26 and married with a newborn of her own, has told and retold the details of her ordeal often over the years.
One point that stands out is the strength of her mother.
“She never gave up hope,” Batista recalled. “She said most people probably thought she was crazy for getting my room ready to come home, but she just had that feeling that I would be back.”
The break in the case came about five days after the abduction, when detectives traced a beeper left behind by the suspect in the hospital room to an inmate at the Adult Correctional Institute.
The final question from the detectives unraveled the mystery.
“Right before they were leaving, they had just turned around and said, ‘did he have a girlfriend?'” Batista said.
The answer was yes, and investigators soon learned the girlfriend had told everyone including the inmate that she had just had his baby. Macayla was found safe at the home of the woman’s parents.
One example: her husband heard about a woman who was his wife’s age and had the same name, spelled the same unique way.
He found out her parents were among the countless waiting for good news, about 26 years ago.
“If she was returned safely, they would name her daughter after Macayla,” he said. “When I found that out, I figured this story was so impactful at the time. It was a lot bigger than we thought.”
His wife has heard similar stories about the beginning of her life over the years, but never wavered about where she would have her baby.
“The security was great,” she said, adding that nurses told her the circumstances surrounding the abduction are used in training nurses and prompted enhanced security.
But Batista again reflects on how strong her mom was.
“I just couldn’t imagine leaving the hospital without him,” she said. “And hope that they’re going to come back. [My mom] has always been the strongest person that I’ve ever known.”