Details of Disappearance Marlene was abducted at gunpoint by a female suspect in the New York City borough of Brooklyn at 9:30 p.m. on October 21, 1985.
Marlene's mother, Francisca Santana, met the abductor at Brookdale Hospital while giving birth to Marlene, three days prior to the abduction. The woman admired the baby at the nursery window during visiting hours; she said it was the prettiest baby and the quietest one.
Marlene was kept longer than usual due to jaundice, but eventually discharged with a clean bill of health. The suspect kidnapped the baby as her mother was leaving the hospital with her. The child was wrapped in a blue, pink and yellow swaddling blanket at the time of her abduction.
The suspect threatened to shoot Marlene if her mother did not give her up. The two women walked together for six blocks with the suspect pointing a gun at Marlene, then stopped at a deserted junkyard, and the suspect took the baby. Her mother gave the abductor her telephone number and asked her to call. The kidnapper escaped in a waiting car driven by an accomplice. Marlene and the suspect have never been seen again.
Sketches of the abductor are posted with this case summary. She was 5'2 and 130 pounds, and approximately 24 to 30 years old in 1985. She was Caucasian or Hispanic, with dyed red or blonde hair, and may have been wearing a wig. The abduction car was a white 1976 Chevrolet Malibu with red lettering on the door; possibly it was an unlicensed cab.
The same week Marlene disappeared, a two-month-old baby was kidnapped from another New York City hospital. The infant was recovered unharmed a few days later and his abductor was arrested. The case is not believed to be connected to Marlene's; the timing was coincidental.
Marlene's father was in the Dominican Republic at the time of the infant's disappearance and is not considered a suspect in her case. Francisca returned to the Dominican Republic after Marlene's abduction, as she didn't feel safe in the United States. She and Marlene's father had had two children before Marlene, and they subsequently had two more. The entire family still lives in the Dominican Republic and is employed at the family business, a small supermarket.
Although it's possible that Marlene was sold for adoption, authorities don't believe her abductor was a professional criminal. Rather, they think the kidnapper was a mentally unstable woman wanted a child to raise and couldn't have one of her own. Marlene's case remains unsolved.
- New York City Police Department
Updated 8 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated September 2, 2018; distinguishing characteristics and details of disappearance updated.