• Kyodo

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Police arrested an 18-year-old female college student Friday on suspicion of abducting a 6-month-old baby girl who was found seven hours after going missing in Saitama Prefecture on Aug. 3, police officials said.

The suspect, who lives in the prefecture, was not identified because she is a minor.

The baby, named Yuka, went missing around 11:15 a.m. Aug. 3 when her mother, Keiko Kurabayashi, 23, went shopping and briefly left her alone in a minivan in the parking lot of a shopping center in Higashi-Matsuyama, Saitama Prefecture.

Yuka was found unharmed in a car parked at a supermarket about 2 km away from the shopping center shortly after 6 p.m., when the car’s owner returned from shopping. The baby had a fresh diaper on when she was found.

Investigators said the suspect has admitted to the allegations, telling police she took the baby because she felt sorry for the child, whom she said was crying in the car, and because the child was so cute.

She reportedly added that she drove away from the scene in a stolen vehicle that she had been using frequently.

However, the teen said she realized that she had to return the baby to her parents quickly, because she would not be able to take care of it, investigators said.

According to investigations, the girl drove with the baby back to her apartment, where she lives by herself.

The college student became a suspect after questioning of residents in the area where the incident took place revealed that the teenager, a native of Niigata Prefecture, was driving a car reportedly stolen from that prefecture in early July. She admitted to the charges during police questioning, investigators said.

Police said they would continue questioning the student on her motive for the abduction.

The girls’ parents meanwhile said they were relieved a suspect had been apprehended.

According to the baby’s mother, the child did not smile or make any sound for several days after being abducted. She added that Yuka has begun smiling again in recent days but still cries when a woman other than her mother holds her.

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