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Baby Recovered Four Days After Kidnapping

February 24, 1988 GMT

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ A woman apparently kidnapped a 5-week-old baby because she had an abortion recently, authorities said after they returned the infant to her ecstatic mother.

Maritza Rentz, a 38-year-old psychotherapist arrested Tuesday, was being held today on $8,000 bond for investigation of second-degree kidnapping in the abduction of 5-week-old Rachael Ann White, police said.

Rachael Ann was found at Mrs. Rentz’ home a day after the girl’s mother issued a nationwide plea for the baby’s safe return.

Rachael Ann had been kidnapped from her home Friday by a woman answering a babysitting ad, police said.

″It appears it was a replacement baby,″ said police Lt. Joe Vernier.

Mrs. Rentz gave a statement to police saying she told her husband when he came home from work Friday that she had had a baby that day by Caesarian section, said police Capt. Vic Morris.

Investigators said they did not know how long Mrs. Rentz was pregnant when the abortion was performed on Oct. 27 for medical reasons. Details were sketchy, but apparently doctors decided she couldn’t bring the baby to term, police said.

Police also have not determined whether Air Force Capt. Paul Rentz was aware his wife’s pregnancy was terminated.

Rentz, a 36-year-old clinical psychologist and behavioral science instructor at the Air Force Academy, was being questioned, authorities said.

Rachael Ann’s mother, Cora Abbott, was elated after being reunited with her baby.

″I thought I loved her all I could until this happened, but now I know I love her even more,″ said Abbott, who was at work at a pizza parlor when the abduction occurred.

Of Mrs. Rentz, she said: ″I feel very sorry for her, that she’d have to do something like this. But I’m angry. I still don’t understand it.″

The woman who kidnapped the baby matched Mrs. Rentz’s description ″like a mirror,″ said Deputy Police Chief Pat McElderry.

The woman was applying for a babysitting position at the home of Rachael’s Ann’s grandmother, Ethel Reed. Reed gave the child to the woman while she went to answer the telephone; when she returned, the woman had fled with the child, authorities said.

A tip led police to the Rentzes, Morris said. Air Force Maj. Bruce Yeager, a neighbor in the subdivision where the Rentzes moved last summer, said he became suspicous after he and his wife saw the baby and thought it did not look newborn. He said he contacted Air Force Academy police.

Investigators went to the home Tuesday as Rentz was leaving for work in a car that matched a description of the car police were seeking in the abduction, authorities said.

Police found the baby in a crib and were shown a false birth certificate with ″Penrose Hospital″ handwritten on a gold seal, police said.

But after an FBI agent looked at the child’s navel and noticed the umbilical cord knot was gone - an indication the baby was older than four days - Mrs. Rentz was arrested, authorities said.

Mrs. Rentz came into her office at about 9 a.m. Friday, but stayed only about 30 minutes, said receptionist Meda Frye.

According to police documents, friends were told Mrs. Rentz had given birth at 9:42 that morning. She said her baby was named Aurora Helen Rentz.

On Oct. 31, shortly after she lost her own baby, Mrs. Rentz put an ad in a newspaper offering her services as a counselor. Her business cards referred to her as a psychotherapist offering ″parent-child consultations,″ said the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph.

A month later, on Dec. 1, she set up a family counseling practice, the newspaper said.

Dr. John McDonald, a University of Colorado criminal psychiatrist, said women who kidnap babies often have lost a child of their own.

″The need to have a baby is so great, they don’t really face up to what they are doing, or they convince themselves that what they are doing is right,″ he said.