Child's abductor ordered back to hospital

January 15, 1991|By Raymond L. Sanchez | Raymond L. Sanchez,Evening Sun Staff

A Baltimore woman has been returned to a state hospital for the criminally insane after admitting that she kidnapped a 7-year-old girl from Johns Hopkins Hospital last summer.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Hilary D. Caplan yesterday ordered Karen Flannagan, 28, back to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, where she has been undergoing treatment since her arrest. Flannagan was sent back to Perkins after a team of doctors determined that she had a mental disorder and was a substance abuser when she abducted the child.

In court yesterday, Flannagan admitted taking the child. But a medical report prepared by doctors from Perkins said Flannagan was "not criminally responsible" for her actions. Within 50 days after returning to Perkins, she will face a hearing to determine whether she can be released.

"She is competent to stand trial," the team of five Perkins' doctors wrote in their report. "However, she was suffering at the time of the offense from a mental disorder which caused her to lack substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of her conduct or to conform her conduct to the requirements of the law."

Flannagan had a schizophrenic disorder and she was abusing alcohol, cocaine and other drugs at the time of the kidnapping, said prosecutor Gary Schenker.

Just after midnight July 12, Flannagan snatched 7-year-old Tannesha Jefferson from a waiting area in Hopkins' emergency room, Schenker said.

"Come on, hon," Flannagan told the child. "Let's go home. I'm your mother."

Shortly before the abduction, Flannagan, a psychiatric outpatient at Hopkins, was in the emergency room talking to Tannesha's mother, Deborah, the prosecutor said. The defendant told Deborah Jefferson that she also had a 7-year-old child and showed her pictures. She then picked up Tannesha "without any warning" and left the hospital, Schenker said.

Moments later, a city police officer arrested Flannagan with the crying child in her arms outside the hospital.

Flannagan, of the 1500 block of Pentridge Road, faced a maximum 30-year sentence if convicted of the kidnapping charge.

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