Jeremiah Thate, the baby abducted from his crib at Prince George's Hospital Center in June when he was 3 weeks old, was found yesterday, in good health, at the home of two Southeast Washington women who were charged with kidnaping, police reported.
The child was found as the result of a tip to police. Once he had been identified last night through a test of his blood type and by comparing his footprint with a print taken at birth, he was reunited with his parents, Robert and Theresa Thate of Hyattsville.
"We're ecstatic," said Theresa Thate, who added that Jeremiah seemed to recognize his father.
The abduction June 11 from a pediatrics ward at the Prince George's County hospital in Cheverly generated a massive search, and doctors said at the time that they feared for Jeremiah's life because he was being treated for pneumonia and needed medication.
The baby was pronounced "in excellent condition" last night at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring by a pediatrician, Dr. Ruth Steerman.
She said Jeremiah appeared to have been well cared for, was well-nourished, had developed normally and was functioning at the correct age level.
The pneumonia, probably a viral strain, had apparently "resolved itself," Steerman said.
Shortly before midnight, the Thates left the hospital to take their child home for the first time in more than four months.
Jeremiah's abduction apparently had no connection with the kidnaping of another infant from Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore a week later, police said last night.
That baby, Kendol Kearnes, who was 2 days old when taken June 18, is still missing. A suspect in his abduction was charged Tuesday in a warrant and was still being sought by Baltimore police last night.
A source said a tip received two weeks ago from a D.C. firefighter that a white baby was living with two black women in Southeast Washington led to the discovery of Jeremiah yesterday.
The women, 50-year-old Lillie Rose Baynes and her 34-year-old daughter, Linda Faye Stancil, both of 748 Howard Rd. SE, were confronted by investigators at their home yesterday and initially "denied having a baby," said Capt. Jack San Felice, Prince George's County police press information commander.
But the officers "heard a baby cry or make sounds in another room," San Felice said. Although one of the women then said "it was her baby and that it was a female," the detectives asked to see the baby and ascertain its sex.
When that was done and the baby turned out to resemble the Thate child, he said, the boy and the women were taken to the county's Criminal Investigation Division in Forestville.
The women were charged early today with kidnaping. No bond hearing had been held by 2:30 a.m.
San Felice said neither the mother or daughter worked at the hospital at the time of the abduction but it was not known if either had previously worked there or had some other familiarity with the hospital.
He said the motive was still unclear but that the daughter "apparently wanted a baby real bad."
No information was available on whether the child had spent the entire time since his disappearance at the home in Southeast Washington.
Cpl. Bruce Gentile, a county police spokesman, said it took investigators two weeks to check the tip because it was among hundreds of leads that were being methodically followed up.
The number of phoned tips increased dramatically -- Gentile said police were "inundated" -- after a story about the abduction and the Thates appeared in The Washington Post Magazine Oct. 11.
Rewards totaling more than $16,000 were posted for information leading to the child's recovery, but San Felice said he did not know whether the tipster would qualify to receive the money.
Jeremiah was taken initially to Prince George's Hospital Center, where the tests were made that confirmed his identity.
He was transferred to Holy Cross at the request of his parents because it is nearer their home, police said.
The Thates had last seen their baby 20 minutes before he was snatched from his crib in the Prince George's hospital on June 11. They left to get food at the hospital's canteen.
During their absence, someone took the baby after cutting or pulling out an intravenous tube that was feeding antibiotics into his arm.
In an emotional June 12 news conference, Robert Thate, a cartographer for Greenhorne & O'Mara Inc. in Greenbelt, pleaded with the abductor: "Please do not compound your crime . . . . Please do not dump him in a garbage can somewhere. I ask you to be compassionate to us and our child."
Police had no suspects immediately after the abduction, but said they believed the baby may have been smuggled out of the hospital in a white canvas gym bag in which Theresa Tate had stored her clothes.
The Thate abduction was one of four affecting residents of the Washington-Baltimore area in the last 15 months.
In July 1986, a newborn was taken from her mother's arms in Arlington Hospital by a Bradbury Heights woman dressed in a hospital uniform who said the child needed blood tests.
The child was recovered a week later and the woman, Valerie M. Holbert, was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
On June 18, the Kearnes child, then 2 days old, was taken from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore; he is still missing. Police issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for 44-year-old Dorothy Jean Brown, a security guard at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Last November, Phillip Worthington was taken from his mother's arms in a Sellersville, Pa., hospital by an Ellicott City, Md., woman posing as a nurse. Ramona Jean Thompson, 44, pleaded guilty in February to kidnaping charges.
The abductions highlighted security problems in many local hospitals, where security measures ranged from none to 38 closed-circuit video cameras at Johns Hopkins.
After the Arlington Hospital abduction, several local hospitals improved security in their obstetrics wards, using such means as new identification procedures for employes and visitors.
Prince George's Hospital Center provided color-coded uniforms for nurses to eliminate confusion over who is a hospital employe.
As the Thates left Holy Cross Hospital late last night with their son, their thoughts were not on hospital security. Theresa Thate said: "I can't wait to get him home and give him a bath."