Alleged plan to swap Conn. infant for rent may have Maryland tie Baby's intended home was in Calvert, police say

August 25, 1996|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

An investigation into an alleged plan to trade a 6-week-old Connecticut boy for a year's back rent is turning toward a Maryland woman, who police say they believe was meant to be the recipient of the child, Connecticut police sources said yesterday.

Federal investigators in Baltimore confirmed yesterday they are working with the Torrington (Conn.) Police Department on a case that is turning toward Calvert County resident Candace Petrovits. Connecticut police are trying to determine whether Petrovits had a role in an alleged scheme to buy a baby from James and Lynn Luddy of Torrington.

Petrovits' brother, Jerry Petrovits -- a Goshen, Conn., bail bondsman and the Luddys' landlord -- and the Luddys were arrested last week on charges of setting up a plan to trade more than a year of back rent the couple owed -- at least $1,200 -- in return for their child born July 11, according to a Torrington police official who declined to be named.

The baby was meant to be given to Candace Petrovits in Maryland, the official said. Candace Petrovits "wanted a baby badly and couldn't get pregnant for whatever reason," the official said.

Larry Foust, spokesman for the Baltimore FBI, confirmed that his office has been working with the Torrington Police Department on the case since Friday. But he refused to characterize the nature of the investigation or confirm whether the agency had interviewed Candace Petrovits.

"Our intent was to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to warrant a federal kidnapping charge," Foust said.

Candace Petrovits, of Huntingtown, did not respond to a message asking her to call yesterday.

Law enforcement officials are not sure if Candace Petrovits knew about the alleged scheme.

"We're not certain whether Candace was aware of how she was going to access the baby," the Torrington police official said.

The alleged scheme unfolded in Torrington, a town of 32,000 last week. Wednesday, the Luddys reported that their son had been abducted from their apartment.

After police launched a search and interviewed scores of people, a woman at a local consignment shop called police to tell them she had seen the baby, according to an article in the Hartford Courant, which first reported the allegations about the baby.

That call led police to Carol M. Brooks, a woman who police said was holding the baby until he could be given to Candace Petrovits. Police officials believe Brooks was involved with Jerry Petrovits, who posted bond to get her out of jail on drug charges.

Police found the baby Thursday in a car outside Brooks' Brookfield, Conn., house. Brooks was arrested on burglary charges, the Courant reported. The child was placed in the custody of Connecticut's Department of Children and Families on Thursday.

On Friday, Brooks, Jerry Petrovits and the Luddys all were charged with risking injury to a minor and conspiracy to commit injury to a minor. Petrovits was released on $50,000 bond.

The Luddys are being held in lieu of $200,000 bail each. Brooks, who is being held on $205,000 bail, told police that the baby was destined for Candace Petrovits.

"The plan was she [Brooks] was a carrying agent and they were supposed to transport the baby to Candace at some point in time," police officials said.

Candace Petrovits, 38, works at the Lord Calvert Bowl bowling alley in Huntingtown. A woman there refused to specify what her job was.

A local law enforcement official said he had bowled with her in a league several years ago.

"She was easygoing, easy to talk to," said Mike Bomgardner, a detective with the Calvert County Sheriff's Department.

Current and former neighbors described her as a private person. One former neighbor said Petrovits shared a home with another woman and two teen-age boys. "They pretty much kept to themselves," said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified.

Pub Date: 8/25/96

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