It began with an offer on Facebook group for the mothers of newborns: An aspiring photographer wanted to take pictures of babies for free to build her portfolio.
To the mother of a 5-week-old infant, it sounded like a great deal. But after three sessions with the photographer, her teenage daughter in tow, things allegedly took a terrifying turn.
The new mom ate a cupcake offered by the pair and soon began to feel wobbly, numb and drowsy. She feared she had been drugged, told the visitors to leave, and called 911.
Police in Washington state suspect she was correct—and they say she’s lucky the Feb. 5 encounter in Spanaway didn’t turn out much worse.
Investigators said they have collected evidence that the 38-year-old “photographer,” Juliette Parker, had a plan to steal a baby and raise it as her own.
On Friday afternoon, detectives from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department arrested Parker, who has also gone by the names Juliette Noel and Juliette Gains, and her 16-year-old daughter. Parker was charged with attempted kidnapping and second-degree assault.
A release from the sheriff’s office said there were red flags that something strange was afoot during Parker’s earlier visit to the home. “The suspect was observed taking cell phone selfies with the victim’s baby and was seen wiping her fingerprints off items she touched inside the victim’s home,” they said.
The sheriff’s office said they have identified “additional victims” but provided no details.
Parker’s ex-husband, Daniel Gaines, who is locked in a custody battle with her, said that he finds it hard to believe his daughter was in on the alleged plot.
“I question what my daughter knew,” he told The Daily Beast.
Last year, Parker ran for mayor of Colorado Springs, Colorado, according to KOAA. At the time, she had only been a resident of the city for two years.
“I love Colorado Springs, and I want to live here the rest of my life,” Parker said then, according to The Gazette. “I would like my kids to be able to live here and grow up here. I would like to have my grandkids be able to grow up here and live here and have their kids here.”
Parker, who ran on a platform of affordable housing and ending homelessness, lost by a landslide.
The Gazette reported last year that Parker had been charged in federal court with trespassing in 2014; she explained that she wandered onto military property during a hike and picked up some old rifle bullets—one of which exploded at home, injuring her.
Court records say she and a companion were scavenging for metal and took the shells home to melt them for scrap, the Tacoma News Tribune reported. While disassembling one, it blew up, blasting a 2-foot-wide hole in the floor and causing injuries to both.
Additional reporting by Barbie Latza Nadeau