Mother takes home daughter thought killed in fire - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3-9-04

Mother takes home daughter thought killed in fire

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AP) -- A 6-year-old girl who was allegedly kidnapped as a newborn and was thought to have died in a fire was returned to her mother Monday.

Luzaida Cuevas quickly ushered the girl through a back door into her Northeast Philadelphia home as night fell. The girl, dressed in a blue hooded jacket and pink pants, giggled but did not speak.

Cuevas, 31, and the child she named Delimar Vera were officially reunited Monday afternoon at state family services offices in Burlington County, N.J., the mother's attorney, Alexander Murphy Jr., said in a statement. The family planned a "small, private gathering of friends and family" to celebrate, he said.

Police allege that a relative, Carolyn Correa, snatched the 10-day-old girl from her crib in December 1997, torched the house to cover her crime and raised the infant as her own.

Correa, a cousin by marriage of the girl's father, is charged with arson, kidnapping and 13 other counts. Correa, 42, of Willingboro, N.J., has been held on $1 million bail since her arrest March 2.

Cuevas said she instantly recognized the girl as her daughter at a Jan. 24 birthday party. DNA tests established that Cuevas and Pedro Vera were the girl's biological parents, police said.

Cuevas and Vera, who are no longer a couple, were awarded legal custody of their daughter Friday. The three have met several times to get acquainted and to prepare for the child's transition to her mother's home.

Child psychologists believe the change will be traumatic for the girl, who has left the only home and family she ever knew. Her parents will try to alleviate any distress and confusion by calling her by the name she was given by her alleged kidnapper -- Aaliyah Hernandez.

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