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Kidnapping at O'Hare: Parents of mentally ill kidnapper of 2-year-old speak out

Kidnapping at O'Hare: Parents of mentally ill kidnapper of 2-year-old speak out
Kidnapping at O'Hare: Parents of mentally ill kidnapper of 2-year-old speak out
Chicago's O'Hare Airport / Wikimedia Commons

A kidnapping at Chicago’s O’Hare airport left one family shaken after a woman, said to be mentally ill, snatched a 2-year-old boy in her arms and fled down an escalator after briefly playing with him. Arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping and battery was 24-year-old Olachi Etoh.

Writes the Chicago Tribune: “For a week, John and Bridget Etoh searched for their missing daughter. She hadn’t responded to several phone calls, and they feared she was off her medication and wandering the streets of Chicago. They finally found Olachi Etoh on Wednesday, her mugshot on the homepage of every news website in the city, charged with grabbing a 2-year-old boy at O'Hare International Airport.”

Tuesday afternoon, Carla Gonzalez was waiting at O’Hare with her children – a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old named Lupe – to pick up her boyfriend and his parents. Gonzalez says a harmless looking Etoh started to play with her 2-year-old, telling him what a “cutie” he was. Suddenly, Etoh grabbed him, stuffed him under her arm like a football, and took off running.

“I said, ‘What are you doing?’ and then thought, ‘Oh my goodness, is this really happening?” Gonzalez said. The freaked-out mom pulled her infant up and took off running after her Etoh. After catching up to her, the two had a brief physical altercation, and Gonzalez ended up wrestling Lupe away from the would-be kidnapper.

“I was in shock for a little bit after that. You never think that stuff will happen to you,” Gonzalez said, adding that despite the fact the terminal was full of people witnessing what was happening, no one stepped forward to intervene.

Etoh’s parents are now speaking up and advocating on behalf of their daughter.

“She’s not a criminal,” said Bridget Etoh, who thinks her daughter believed that Lupe was her nephew. “She’s had mental issues since 2008, and has been off her medications recently. She’s never even gotten a speeding ticket…. She’s all alone and this is all over the papers and TV. She’s been running around with a mental illness.”

Writes the Chicago Tribune:

Etoh was charged with aggravated kidnapping and battery, and was ordered held on $450,000 bail by Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. Wednesday. He also granted prosecutors’ request of a special condition to the bond, prohibiting Etoh from contacting the victim or going to her home or workplace. She is also banned from entering O’Hare.

“She needs to be in a hospital, not a jail,” John Etoh said.”We just want to make sure she gets the help she needs.”

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