SPOKANE, Wash. – The woman accused of kidnapping a 6-month-old child made her first court appearance Monday afternoon on three charges of second degree kidnapping.
Fern Littlecalf is accused of posing as several different people online to lure the child's mother to Spokane. Detectives said the elaborate scheme had been going on since August.
"Oh, it was very confusing in the beginning to walk into and start hearing this story about, ok somebody came from Kennewick to meet somebody in the hospital that they don't even know, that they think is her boyfriend and now the kids are missing. It raises monstrous red flags right away," said Spokane Police Officer Brad Arleth.
While searching for a 6-month-old who had been abducted Friday night from Sacred Heart, detectives uncovered an elaborate scheme to kidnap a child.
It all started when the mother of the 6-month-old met a man on a site called meetme.com. After communicating online for months, the mother of the child considered this man her boyfriend. In October, detectives said the mother even traveled from Kennewick to Spokane to meet the man in person. When she got here, she was told he got a flat tire and the meet up did not happen. What the mother did not know though, the man she considered her boyfriend did not exist.
"The mother of the child and the child were actually in Spokane in October as well, at the suspect's request to meet the imaginary boyfriend and at that time there were some more excuses made as to why he wasn't present," said Arleth.
Although the attempt to meet in person failed, documents said the relationship continued online. Fast forward to last weekend, the mother of the child got a Facebook message from the mother of the man she thought was her boyfriend saying she was sending another family member to pick her up along with her kids to come to Spokane to visit her boyfriend who was in the hospital. Again, detectives said none of these people exist and that each time it was Littlecalf posing as multiple people online. Detectives said Littlecalf also convinced another man she met on the website Plenty of Fish to go pick up the mother and drive her to Spokane.
"He was duped as well. He was told a completely different story about the identity of the baby's mother and that she was a family relation and needed to get here for a completely different reason," Arleth said.
When the mother arrived in Spokane, she was taken to Holy Family Hospital and then to Sacred Heart. Neither hospital had any record of the man she thinks is her boyfriend. During this time, court documents said Littlecalf took off with the woman's child.
"I think it's certainly one where the suspect went to the most effort to build up a long-term game plan of how to engage the victim and use another unwitting person to help her lure the victim to Spokane," said Arleth.
With the help of the FBI, police finally got to the bottom of the scam, arrested LIttlecalf and found the child. The 6-month-old along with the woman's two other small children who were left with the man who got duped as well, were placed in CPS custody.
LIttlecalf's bond was set at $50,000 and police said they would not be surprised if she has tried to do this before.