Baby Boy Kidnaped by Gunman; Police Link Abduction to Dispute Over Custody

Times Staff Writer

FBI and police investigators began a search Saturday for a baby boy kidnaped by a gunman from the Pacific Palisades home of his adoptive parents in what appeared to be a custody dispute involving the natural parents, authorities said.

The 13-month-old boy was abducted Friday evening after the gunman broke into the home while the child was under the care of a baby sitter, Los Angeles police Cmdr. William Booth reported.

Booth refused to identify the parents or the child, saying only that the adoptive parents were "successful, prominent business people" who had been engaged in a custody battle with the natural parents.

"The forceful taking of the boy appears to be an escalation of the custody battle--that's a key theory," Booth said. "However, we have not ruled out that he was abducted for other reasons."

Police investigators, who were later joined by FBI agents, worked through the night Friday and all day Saturday at the West Los Angeles division headquarters.

"The FBI and the big guys from downtown are out here, and everything is hush-hush," said one officer who asked not to be identified.

Booth refused to describe the extent of the FBI's involvement, acting on orders to disclose little about the case.

Investigators at the station said the 21-year-old baby sitter was being questioned as a key witness. Midway through the day, a police interpreter was brought to the station to interview the woman in Spanish, police said. Booth said the woman is an acquaintance of the adoptive parents and is not a suspect in the case.

He said the adoptive parents had left the boy for a few hours with the baby sitter, and returned home shortly after the kidnaping. The boy was their only child, he said.

Police do not know if the child was taken from the Los Angeles area, Booth said. The natural parents are from Los Angeles.

No description of the gunman was released.

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