Teka's story: Part 2

A pregnant woman escapes from the stranger who allegedly tried to take her baby

On Dec. 2, Teka Adams, homeless in the District and nine months pregnant, climbed into a woman's car. Adams believed the woman was taking her to a storage facility in Maryland to pick up donated baby items. Instead, the woman allegedly detoured to her Suitland apartment, attacked her with a box cutter and held Adams captive in an attempt to steal her unborn baby.
By Liza Mundy and Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 2, Teka Adams -- homeless and nine months pregnant -- climbed into the car of a woman named Veronica Deramous. Teka believed Deramous was taking her to a storage facility in Maryland to pick up baby items donated by a company that helps needy mothers. Instead, Deramous allegedly detoured to her Suitland apartment, ushered Teka inside, attacked her with a box cutter, enlisted her 17-year-old son to help tie up Teka with duct tape and held Teka captive on a futon mattress for four days. Teka would eventually realize that it was her unborn baby the woman was allegedly after. The account that follows is Part 2 of a two-part series that is based on interviews with Teka, as well as court documents and interviews with detectives, emergency responders, relatives and others involved in the case. For part 1 click here

Teka began searching for a way to escape. After the shower, Deramous retied her hands -- binding them in front -- and put her back on the mattress. Teka wondered whether it might be possible to throw the TV through the window and jump out. She also tried to reason with Deramous. Sometimes, she would urge Deramous to take her to a hospital. At other times, she would appeal to the woman's sympathy. She said she would be discharged from the maternity home if she was absent for 48 hours without calling. I'm going to lose everything, she said.

It seemed to her that the comments were making Deramous increasingly nervous. The woman would pace and sometimes make calls to check train and airplane schedules. She kept the door to the bedroom closed so her son could not see Teka.

(Photos of Teka Adams and her captivity)

By this time, P.J. Bell, Teka's husband, had called Teka over and over. Teka usually answered her phone, so the first time it went to voice mail, he knew something was wrong. Over the next several days, he frantically tried to find her. He called Teka's father, Gregory Burnette, who looked for her in the neighborhoods she used to run away to.

After two days, Burnette received a call from the maternity home requesting that he pick up her things. When he went there, he was struck by the neatness of her room. "It was immaculate," Burnette said. "Everything was folded and in place." In the past when Teka ran away, she would leave a place in chaos. Surveying the empty room, Burnette said, "I started crying."

Seizing a chance

About midday Saturday, Deramous walked into the bedroom. She had two box cutters and two knives. She started cutting near Teka's lower belly, moving upward, using a picking motion to break the skin. When the pain was unbearable, Teka would gesture and Deramous would stop for a few minutes. Sometimes she would dip a cloth in a bowl of ice water and wipe Teka's stomach. Sometimes she would rewind "This Is It" to a part where Michael Jackson was singing, possibly to mask any sound.

This went on for hours. From time to time, she would place her hands in the incision and enlarge it, feeling around as if trying to gauge the location of the baby. Teka convinced Deramous that the duct tape was cutting off her circulation, and Deramous removed the tape. Later, whenever Deramous wasn't looking, Teka would chew the do-rag around her wrists, in order to loosen it.

Toward the end, Deramous made a horizontal cut that caused fluid to spill. Teka suspected her bladder was cut, but Deramous apparently thought it was her water sac. She told Teka that she could get the final part over with now, or sleep and get it done later. Teka replied that she was in terrible pain and wanted to sleep.

It was evening. Deramous eventually lay down on the floor and went to sleep. Teka slept, too; when she woke, it was still dark but morning. She thought she could hear a child running in the apartment above. She tried mentally to hang on to the sound of the little feet thundering back and forth. The noise seemed so normal, so sustaining.

Teka, who had freed her hands, got onto her hands and knees to urinate into a bowl that served as chamber pot. When she knocked the bowl, Deramous opened her eyes, then closed them. After a few minutes passed and she did not stir again, Teka decided this was her opportunity.

With difficulty, she rose and stepped over Deramous. She cupped her hands beneath her stomach to catch the blood, so it would not drip on Deramous and wake her. Then, as she started walking toward the living room, her stomach fell out.

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