CEDAR CITY, Utah, Feb. 19, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A Cedar City woman who sparked an Amber Alert in November was charged Wednesday with child kidnapping, a first-degree felony, after officials say she crossed from Utah into Colorado with a 4-month-old boy she babysat for an acquaintance.
In addition, investigators found evidence the suspect, 31-year-old Emily Luciano, had contacted a Colorado woman through an adoption agency, telling the woman she was a 17-year-old girl who wanted to give up her baby boy, but who kept making requests for money, Luciano’s probable cause statement says.
Luciano is not currently in custody, and her whereabouts are unknown.
On Nov. 6, 2020, Emily Winston reported that Emily Luciano, 31, had taken her infant son without permission, “and was refusing to return him,” Luciano’s probable cause statement says. The child, identified in court papers as P.W., is 4 months old, and his mother had full custody.
“Through an intensive investigation, it was determined that Luciano had transported P.W. across state lines to Colorado,” says the court statement, filed by an officer of the Cedar City Police Department. “Luciano and P.W. were located at Denver International Airport (DIA) where Luciano was taken into custody.”
Winston and Luciano originally met through a Facebook babysitting group in July or August of 2020, the probable cause statement says. Luciano had been babysitting Winston’s three children, including P.W.
“Luciano watched Winston’s children five or six days a week for around eight hours a day and the children would sometimes spend the night at Luciano’s home,” the statement says. “Compensation paid by Winston to Luciano for her services appears to have been nominal.”
The arrangement ran from summer through the alleged kidnapping, excluding a three-week period in September or October, the statement says.
“During this time, there was a rift between Luciano and Winston. The rift occurred after a mutual acquaintance informed Winston that Luciano was telling others that Winston’s children were actually Luciano’s biological children, that Luciano was not properly caring for the children and that Luciano was using drugs while watching Winston’s children.”
The women reconciled after about three weeks, and Luciano began babysitting Winston’s children again, the statement says.
The probable cause statement says that “Luciano was paying at least two other women to babysit one of Winston’s children. One of the other children would typically be at school and Luciano would keep P.W. during the day. Winston was unaware of these arrangements at the time.”
Days before the alleged kidnapping, Luciano told Winston she planned to take the children to a birthday party in Beaver on Nov. 6, the statement says. On Nov. 5, Winston reportedly asked Luciano if she would keep the children overnight because Winston needed to get a COVID-19 test, the probable cause statement says.
On the morning of Nov. 6, Luciano dropped Winston’s other two children off with a friend, Jessica Evans, and Luciano kept P.W. with her, the statement says. Luciano told Winston that she was going to a dentist appointment in St. George and that Evans was going to come with her to help with Winston’s children.
“In reality, Luciano boarded a plane with P.W., telling airport personnel that P.W. was her child, and they flew to Denver International Airport (DIA).”
Luciano continued to communicate with Winston, and told her that after the dental appointment, she was going to be taking the children to a birthday party, the statement says.
“Winston began to be suspicious when Luciano started to claim that one of the children had spilled water on her phone and that she needed to return to St. George to have the phone repaired. Luciano started contacting Winston from blocked numbers and telling her that her phone was about to die. She then said that they went to Beaver, UT for the birthday party, but that Luciano had discovered there was no party. Luciano communicated that when she discovered there was no birthday party in Beaver, she drove the children 1.5 hours to Richfield, Utah, to visit her father’s grandmother.”
Winston, highly suspicious, told Luciano she would meet her at 7:30 p.m. to pick up the children, the probable cause statement says.
“Luciano would not give an address and continued to provide excuses for not allowing Winston to come pick up the children,” the statement says. “At around 2030 hours, Winston decided to contact law enforcement. When law enforcement was informed of the situation, they ‘pinged’ Luciano’s phone and its location came back as being in Colorado Springs, CO.”
It was later determined that Winston’s two older children were at the home of Evans, in Cedar City, the statement says. Those children were recovered, safe.
“Luciano continued to provide a story that she had broken down in Richfield but that she would get a taxi. Despite numerous efforts to communicate with Luciano and convince her to return P.W., Luciano continued to provide implausible explanations for her failure to comply. An Amber Alert went out at roughly 0500 hours on 11/7/20.
“Based on the Amber Alert, information was received that Luciano had flown
out of St. George the previous day and was heading to DIA,” the probable cause statement says.
FBI agents joined the case, and pinged Luciano’s phone every five minutes as she traveled toward the Denver International Airport, the statement says. Upon arrival at DIA, Luciano was taken into federal custody and P.W. was recovered safely, the statement says.
The probable cause statement says that during the subsequent investigation, agents learned that Luciano had made contact with a woman named Julia Luna on 08/1/20 through an organization called “Angel Adoption,” which is a matching and marketing adoption agency.
“Luciano pretended to be a 17-year-old pregnant girl who was looking to put her child up for adoption although she was 31 years old,” the probable cause statement says. “Luciano used a false name, ‘Loren Malbon,’ and sent old pictures of herself to Luna. Luna had frequent video chats with Luciano in which the lighting on Luciano’s end would be dark.”
Luna became suspicious of Luciano’s motives after researching the provided phone number and email, and finding they were associated with a fraudulent pet rescue organization, investigators said.
“Further, Luciano asked Luna to come visit her but Luna told her she would not visit
without proof of pregnancy,” the probable cause statement says. “Luciano sent Luna an ultrasound laboratory report that appeared to be a badly faked and (a) Photoshopped report. During the course of this deception, Luciano requested money of Luna multiple times.
“Although it is unclear at this time exactly who Luciano planned to meet in Colorado, or what she planned to do, it is believed that she had fraudulent intentions with P.W.”
It was originally reported that federal charges were likely to be filed, “However, Luciano was released after the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case,” the probable cause statement says. “At this time, Luciano’s whereabouts are unknown despite good faith efforts by law enforcement to find her. Therefore, the state requests that a no-bail warrant be issued.”
Luciano is considered flight risk, the statement says, due to out-of-state ties including family in the Philippines.