Local News

Missing Hoke County infant back home

Posted May 29, 2009

— A 9-month-old infant whose babysitter took her out of state without permission last Saturday was home safe and unharmed Friday morning, according to the Hoke County Sheriff's Office.

Renesha Shante Griner, 17, took 9-month-old Saniya Jaynelle Purcell last Saturday, and the two were found in Opp, Ala., Thursday evening, Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said.

Kidnapped child welcomed home Kidnapped child welcomed home

"I started running when I saw her. I just wanted to hold her," Saniya's great-grandmother Donna Clark said.

Saniya slept through the 6-hour ride home and woke up surprised at her family's celebration, relatives said.

"I ran over and grabbed her and started hugging and kissing her, and she was looking at me like, 'OK, grandma, what's going on?'" Clark said.

Hoke County investigators said that Griner had been lying to her 20-year-old ex-boyfriend for the past year, telling him she was pregnant and had had his baby. After babysitting Saniya once, she conceived of the idea to pass the baby off as her own, investigators said.

"I guess she was thinking about what she wanted. She didn't think about how it would affect everybody else," Saniya's grandmother Shelby Day said.

Investigators said that Griner had no intentions of returning the baby and gave Saniya a new name. The family of her ex-boyfriend fell in love with the baby, although some suspicions lingered, Saniya's family said.

"They were asking about when the baby was born, where she was born and all this information and said the girl kept giving them the runaround," Clark said.

Meanwhile, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and law officers in Georgia and Alabama were searching for Saniya. An Amber Alert was not issued in the case because Purcell was not believed to be in danger, investigators said.

Investigators in Opp got a tip that Griner was trying “to orchestrate something with her ex-boyfriend" and went to the man's house. Griner was at the ex-boyfriend’s house when police stopped by, and they found Saniya later with the man's mother, Peterkin said.

"When he found out that she wasn't (his daughter), they said he just broke down and started crying," Clark said.

"I know what he's feeling now, and I'm sad for him," Day said. "But I'm glad to have our baby back."

The ex-boyfriend's family sent Saniya back with things they bought for her – a quilt, clothes, a stuffed lion.

The Opp Police Department charged Griner as a fugitive from justice in Alabama. She waived her right to extradition at a hearing Friday afternoon and will be held without bond until Hoke County sheriff's deputies take custody of her.

Peterkin said he planned to charge Griner with first-degree kidnapping. Her first court appearance was set for Monday morning.

Saniya's relatives had different emotions about the teenager they trusted to watch the girl.

"I don't think I can forgive her," said Saniya's mother, Victoria Purcell.

"I forgive her," Clark said. "Right now I'm praying for her, that she would get the help they need."

They agreed on babysitting plans for the future.

"I don't think we're going to have any of that anytime soon. I'll do it," Day said.


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  • onyourheels2 May 29, 2009

    happymom-i could care less what color she is, i made the statement because she let her baby spend the wkend with a 17 yr old. i don't know too many responsible mothers that let their baby do that.

  • happymom May 29, 2009

    "i guess i should be distraught also since my tax dollars are probably supporting this young mother and her child.

    How are you coming to this conclusion? I didn't read anything about the family's income level in the story. Oh... now I get it. The baby's African American so she MUST be on welfare.

    Way to go there, dude. Nothing like a little racism on a Friday afternoon to set the tone for a pleasant weekend.

    I'm glad this baby's back home where she belongs. I pay taxes, and I would have gladly paid twice to have a baby brought home to her mother. God keep them all.

  • wcumom May 29, 2009

    i guess i should be distraught also since my tax dollars are probably supporting this young mother and her child.

    That's a 100% guarantee!

  • onyourheels2 May 29, 2009

    i guess i should be distraught also since my tax dollars are probably supporting this young mother and her child.

  • dsa1007 May 29, 2009

    It's nice that Granny was there to greet this precious baby....but where is her real mother?....I think mom's a little too lax in this whole thing....if someone took my baby and she was returned to me safely, I would be the one running to hold her in my arms....not my darn grandma....what is up with this mother?

  • Love-Me-Or-Hate-Me May 29, 2009

    Im glad Shes Back Home. God Bless Their Family!! Amen..

  • chosen May 29, 2009

    Yes this young lady was wrong for passing this child off as her own & leaving the state. But lets consider the mother's part in all this. She need to be charge with child neglect!!! What was she thinking leaving her child with another 17 year old child. With all this family that we see, why didn't she ask an older family member to care for her child while she was way? Well to God be all the Glory for the happy outcome!

  • lemme May 29, 2009

    I think Instead of having her in Jail, she needs to be at a Mental hospital for an Evaluation Really. Because if you think you can really pull something like this off you are a very sick person.

    This sounds just like a Real story in Raleigh, my cousin knows this women that is so obsessed with this man, that she's tell her family and friends that she has 2 kids by this man and this lady has none..Walking around rubbing her stomach as though she's pregnant and what she's rubbing is just her FAT belly and will conjured up some kid picutres if you ask to see her new babies. These people are sick.

  • wcumom May 29, 2009

    Where's dad? What's he got to say about all this?

    Why ask such a question,when you already know the answer.

  • Pseudonym May 29, 2009

    Quote-"how much did this cost taxpayers?

    I don't know. Probably as much as it would cost taxpayers to save your child from a kidnapper. Think before your fingers hit the keyboard, dude!