KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (WPVI) --Authorities have identified and charged the woman accused of abducting a 7-week-old baby from the King of Prussia Mall on Thursday night, and we're also learning new details about the incident.
Cherie Amoore, 32, has been charged with kidnapping of a minor, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, interference with the custody of a child, concealment of the whereabouts of a child and other related charges. She was arraigned and held on $500,000 cash bail.
The baby, Ahsir Simmons, was found safe a few hours after the abduction.
Amoore said nothing going into court for her arraignment on Friday, but she and relatives openly wept inside the courtroom.
"It's a very difficult day for everyone. Difficult for her, difficult for her family, and you saw her in the courtroom. She was shaken," said public defender Greg Nester.
According to police documents, Amoore told detectives she gave birth to a boy on Feb. 11, but the baby only lived a few hours, and she never told anyone the child had died.
She then allegedly told police, "I don't know why I did it. I can't explain it. I held him, and all those feelings rushed back. I just wanted my baby. I felt like I was holding my son again. It felt so good. I didn't want to lose that feeling. I was crazy. I never intended to do anything like this."
Police have not been able to confirm that pregnancy, and friends of Amoore tell Action News they were skeptical she was pregnant.
The kidnapping was reported at around 5:45 p.m. Thursday.
Police say Amoore had approached the family and began talking with the mother, asking how old the baby was. During the course of the conversation, Amoore allegedly said she had a baby about the same age.
Amoore followed them around while engaging in small talk, went to stores with them, followed them to the food court, and sat at their table, according to the affidavit.
When the mother arrived after getting food, police say Amoore was still at the table.
According to the affidavit, Amoore asked the mother if she could hold the baby, but was told "no." While the mom was helping other children, police say the baby began to cry and Amoore took him from his stroller and began to console him.
The mom told police she was distracted by the other children and, when her back was turned, Amoore ran off with the baby. She started to chase after Amoore, but lost sight of her when she turned to check on her other son, who was still at the table.
Two people sitting nearby pointed out which direction Amoore went, police say, but by then she was gone.
Chopper 6 was overhead as police searched cars at the mall.
Investigators say, after the kidnapping, Amoore took little Ahsir to show him to relatives.
However, once news of the abduction emerged and surveillance video of the abductor was released, police say family members recognized her and notified police.
Meanwhile, police reviewed video showing Amoore talking to another woman shortly before the abduction. That woman also helped police identify the suspect.
Those tips brought police to a home above a barber shop in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, where Ahsir was found safe and Amoore was taken into custody.
Police say when she answered the door, Amoore said "I took the baby and I am sorry." The baby was asleep in a car seat belonging to Amoore, police say.
"She has told our investigators that she did not go to the mall with intention to steal a baby," said Chief Tom Nolan.
"I just got up and walked away," Amoore is quoted as saying in the police affidavit. "I remember walking, it was like an out of body experience."
Action News was there as baby Ahsir was reunited with his family at the Upper Merion police station.
His mother, Malika Hunter, said, "I would like to thank God for allowing my baby to come back. And, I want to thank the Upper Merion Police Department, and everybody on social media that helped me get my baby back. I want to thank you so much."
Family reunited with kidnapped baby
Hunter says she has not been able to sleep since her ordeal. She tells Action News she is still in shock about what happened, and now fears taking her children outside.
"For you to come along to take somebody else's child to fill your void, and try to leave me with one is not right," said Hunter. "I have a sister that suffered the same loss, but you don't see her out here kidnapping and stealing people's children."
"I lost my son and I was hurt, and what I never want to do is put that hurt on somebody else," said Quydeira Hunter, sister. "So for her to use that as an excuse, that's not an excuse."
Hunter, who also has another young son, Ahmad, says her children are her world. And while she is deeply grateful to have Ahsir back, the ordeal has left her deeply scared.
"From this situation, I don't wanna go outside anymore, I don't want to take my kids out, I just want to keep my kids in the house where they're safe," said Hunter. "I don't trust no one. Now I feel as though if I go somewhere, my kids are a target now. I don't wanna go nowhere."
Cherie Amoore is the daughter of Renee Amoore, who is both the deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and a panelist on 6abc's "Inside Story." She had no comment outside court.
Shoppers were in disbelief that something like this could happen with all the police presence and surveillance cameras at the mall.
"It's unbelievable. That's crazy," said Sara Elhollal of King of Prussia. "I feel so bad for the mother."
And yet there were others who were completely oblivious to what was happening.
"They didn't make an announcement. They didn't do anything, they didn't say anything," said Camrah Carter of Camden, New Jersey.
"How am I supposed to know that's going on if nobody says anything?" said Amina Sabre of Camden, New Jersey.
In a statement, a King of Prussia Mall spokesman said:
"King of Prussia Mall has 24/7 state-of-the-art security protocols both inside and outside the property, including a robust security force and continuous patrol routes. Our emergency procedures were operationalized instantly, including the deployment of law enforcement personnel. The results of these efforts, in partnership with our local law enforcement officials, resulted in the happy outcome of returning the baby safely to his family and we are incredibly thankful of their support."