Something looked familiar about the little girl that Luzaida Cuevas, 31, saw at a child’s birthday party in Philadelphia two months ago.
The girl was about 6, roughly the same age as the newborn daughter Cuevas lost in a fire just before Christmas in 1997.
At the party, the child’s mother, Carolyn Correa, got nervous and called her daughter away from as Cuevas, which heightened the woman’s suspicions. Borrowing a device she once saw on a TV show, Cuevas later pretended to pull gum from the girl’s hair. She wrapped strands of the hair in a napkin for DNA testing.
With the help of a sympathetic Philly politician, the test confirmed Cuevas’ suspicions: The girl was the daughter she believed had died in the fire.
Yesterday, Correa was in police custody, facing kidnapping and arson charges for allegedly snatching the child, then setting a fire to cover up the crime. Authorities never found the child’s remains but assumed she had perished in the fire.
The child was in the custody of welfare authorities while plans were being made to return her to her birth mother today.