Mélissa McMahon and Simon Boisclair have their newborn daughter Victoria back in their arms, and they thank Quebecers for making that happen.
'We got a huge wave of love from the entire population,' — Mélissa McMahon, mother
“I never thought Quebec could be so helpful and considerate. We got a huge wave of love from the entire population. It helped us get through it,” said Mélissa McMahon, who gave birth Sunday to the couple's fourth child, Victoria.
But the joy of her birth was quickly replaced with fear after a woman dressed as a nurse entered the Sainte-Marie Hospital in Trois-Rivières, Que., Monday evening and took the day-old baby out of the hospital room.
- Abducted baby now with family after Facebook spurs search
- Abducted newborn found, suspect arrested: Quebec police
“Everyone was visiting in the room. I left with [our three sons]. My parents and my sister-in-law were there, and someone left with our daughter to weigh her,” said Boisclair.
A mother’s instinct
Boisclair, who was driving home with the couple's three sons, said his wife immediately knew something was wrong as soon as the woman who appeared to be a nurse left the room holding their newborn.
“My wife had a sort of maternal instinct — which I cannot understand. She noticed something was off. She left to go get the baby, and she wasn’t able to find her. She called me and said our child had been kidnapped,” Boisclair said.
“I’m like a mother hen with my other kids. I’m not controlling, but I always have to have my eyes on them … I just had a really bad feeling. Thankfully, I had this bad feeling because that led to the turn of events,” McMahon said.
She said she ran outside to look for Victoria, but couldn’t find her.
“Then it was total hysteria, but everyone came to help. Someone brought me a wheelchair. Someone called 911, someone got the security footage.… Everyone stayed late to give police their version of events. Everyone helped, and we are so grateful.”
A 3-hour search
Police said the suspect, who was dressed as a nurse, took the baby around 7 p.m.
'We thought maybe that was the last time we ever saw her.' —Simon Boisclair, father
The next few hours felt eternal, the parents told CBC News.
“I told myself happy endings only happen in movies. I told myself that if they didn’t find her before midnight, they’ll never find her,” McMahon said.
“We thought maybe that was the last time we ever saw her,” said Boisclair, who took to social media to spread the word about his abducted daughter.
“We thought that was the best thing to do. The Amber Alert was launched, so we published photos that everyone could share,” Boisclair said.
Pictures of Victoria, as well as of the suspect, were shared on social media.
“Once the photo [of the suspect] was on Facebook and shared, people saw her and recognized her.… Often it’s a bunch of stupidities and people waste time on social media, but for once it served its purpose,” Boisclair said.
The couple said they were stunned to learn that complete strangers pitched in to help locate their daughter.
“Some people we didn’t even know drove around to look in parking lots and hotels,” McMahon said.
After three hours, at around 10 p.m., a phone call came in from police.
“We heard a police officer yell: 'We have the baby.' Everyone screamed and cried. It was a beautiful moment … The police officer cried, the nurses cried, the investigators cried, and all the doctors too — everyone was so happy with the outcome, and with little Victoria safe and sound,” McMahon said through tears.
“It was even better than her birth. I have no words to describe it,” Boisclair said.
Four friends from Trois-Rivières saw the Amber Alert on social media, recognized the suspect as a former neighbour and decided to drive to her house.
They saw a parked red Toyota Yaris police were looking for, saw a baby inside the home, and called police.
“We want to thank everyone. It was so nice of people,” McMahon said, adding that she hopes this experience will not make her paranoid about strangers.
“It’s not because someone is in a uniform that you have to trust them blindly. Ask more questions.”
The couple said they plan to go back home with their four children as soon as possible.
“We want to have a normal life — play soccer with the kids, go to work … and put the past behind us,” Boisclair said.