Every October 18th, Francesca and Tomas Santana commemorate their daughter, Marlene's birthday. But every October 18th is also a time of sorrow for the Santana family because Marlene has been missing since 1985. But in the beginning, all that mattered to Francesca was having a beautiful, healthy baby:
"When my baby was born she was pretty. She was very beautiful. She was the most beautiful baby in the nursery."
Three days later, on the 21st of October, Francesca was preparing to take her baby home when she met a woman outside the Brooklyn hospital's nursery:
"When I was looking at my baby in the nursery, I saw a woman in the window that told me that my baby was the most quiet one, the prettiest one, and I was glad that she told me that, because I thought she liked my baby."
A few hours later, at 9:00 PM, Francesca checked out of the hospital. According to Francesca, her two sisters-in-law came to take her home:
"When we were going downstairs, a woman came to me, the same woman that I saw in the nursery. She told me she was waiting for me all day."
According to Francesca, the woman then pulled out a gun and pointed it at the baby:
"She told us to walk or she was going to blow up the head. And, we walked."
They walked over six blocks at gunpoint. Finally, they stopped near a deserted junkyard. At first, Francesca thought that they were being robbed. The woman demanded that Francesca give her the baby, then got in a car driven by an accomplice and drove off. Francesca was in a state of shock:
"When she took the baby... I didn't know what to do. I was crying, I tried to stop the car and... nobody helped us."
Francesca went to the police and detectives were assigned to the case. She was able to describe the car that had driven away with Marlene. It was a white 1976 Chevy Malibu, with red lettering on its door. At the hospital, police tried to gather descriptions of the mysterious woman. Some believed that she was not a professional criminal, but rather, an emotionally unstable woman unable to have a child of her own. Based on eyewitness descriptions, a composite of the abductor was created. She was white with Hispanic features and no accent. Her hair was dyed reddish blonde, and at the time she appeared to be in her late 20s.
Today, the Santana family is still searching for their missing daughter. She has brown hair and brown eyes and was born with a medical condition that makes her feet appear somewhat "C" shaped when viewed from the bottom. She may celebrate her birthday around Halloween and may have been put up for an illegal adoption in late 1985 or 1986.