Mom Gets Put in Jail While Her Sick Kids Are in the Hospital & It's All a Case of Mistaken Identity

woman in jailAuthorities arrested a woman named Maria Vargas-Bautista on an eight-year-old fugitive warrant connected to a terrible child abuse charge. Only problem: She was the wrong Maria. And as Vargas-Bautista sat in jail trying to convince the Douglas County, Oklahoma sheriff's office that they had the wrong woman, her two critically-ill sons were fighting off throat infections.


Vargas-Bautista had taken her boys to the emergency room and then fainted. She spent the night at the hospital as well, and was arrested soon after waking. Like she didn't have enough to worry about.

The mother was finally released -- without explanation -- four days after her arrest. Meanwhile, her husband had to take time off of work to care for their three children (they also have a daughter). Now Vargas-Bautista is suing the county. Oh, and the fugitive, Maria L. Vargas, is still at large.

The other Maria -- the real fugitive -- was arrested in 2005 at the age of 18 after she gave birth at home, hid her newborn under clothes in a closet, and denied giving birth. The infant was found alive, and she was arrested on suspicion of felony child abuse. She disappeared before her pretrial hearing.

Meanwhile, "wrong" Maria says she was never read her rights or asked for identification (which might have cleared a few things up, don't you think?) Oh, but they fingerprinted her twice. Like fugitive Maria, she is from Guatemala. But she arrived in the U.S. in 2007, and her daughter, Micaela, is only five years old. 

I can see how authorities would want to investigate someone with almost the same name, and of the same nationality. But hello, Maria is an extremely common name among Latinas. Both of my grandmothers and some of my aunts have that name. And anyway, how long would it take for them to figure out they had the wrong woman? An hour? Seriously.

You would think that knowing this woman had two critically ill children would put some pressure of them to resolve matters ASAP so she could get back to them. Why did they drag their feet? I don't know that suing is the best solution, but if this happened to me I would want the authorities to answer for their incompetence in some way.

What would you do if this happened to you?


Image © moodboard/Corbis



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