Baby swap case hits a wall, mysteries still abound

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Baby swap case hits a wall, mysteries still abound

The investigation into the mystery of the three-year-old baby who died after being abandoned in Gumi, North Gyeongsang has hit a dead end due to unreliable answers from the child's sister and mother, police said Monday.
 
After four separate DNA tests confirmed that the dead baby was not the daughter of the initial 22-year-old female suspect, but of the suspect’s 48-year-old mother, police have been unable to answer questions about the paternity of the child -- or the whereabouts of the 22-year-old woman’s own biological child.
 
Under initial questioning by the police, the 22-year-old woman confessed to abandoning the child to her death, saying she found her difficult to raise alone after divorcing the child’s father.
 
According to police, the 22-year-old claimed she was unaware that the child she abandoned was actually her sister, borne by her own mother who lived on a lower flat of the same building, until the DNA results were shared with her.
 
She said she believed the girl was the baby she had given birth to three years earlier.
 
Police said that a lie detector has revealed little about the woman’s claims.
 
Police are viewing the case as one in which two baby girls were swapped shortly after birth.
 
According to the police investigation, the 48-year-old biological mother of the baby insists she did not give birth to a daughter recently.
 
Police have also conducted DNA testing of male acquaintances of the baby’s 48-year-old biological mother. None have turned up a match.
 
Police have assigned three criminal profilers to induce the mother to confess, but they have not succeeded thus far.
 
Criminology Professor Lee Soo-gyeong of Gyeonggi University suggested that the biological mother is lying to hide some other fact from police.
 
“If the disappeared daughter had died, she could say that the baby died during childbirth or due to illness,” Lee said in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo. “The fact that she won’t admit to anything suggests that her daughter’s child is still alive somewhere.”
 
Records from a Gumi hospital have confirmed that the 22-year-old woman gave birth to a child, but the whereabouts of that child are currently unknown.
 
Police are investigating how the 22-year-old woman did not know for three years that her child was possibly swapped with her mother’s.
 
In the absence of birth records for the dead child, police are searching for individuals who may have helped the 48-year-old biological mother’s pregnancy and delivery.
 
In the meantime, police have arrested the 22-year-old woman for child abandonment and the 48-year-old woman for swapping the babies.
 
Police say they plan to refer the case to prosecutors on Wednesday.
 
BY MICHAEL LEE   [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]
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