Girl Kidnapped in 1997 Found by Total Coincidence

South African teen's sister noticed resemblance when they met at school
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2015 12:58 PM CST
Girl Kidnapped in 1997 Found by Total Coincidence
Celeste Nurse, right, the mom of a girl kidnapped as a baby 17 years ago, leaves court after attending the appearance of a woman suspected of the kidnapping in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 27, 2015.   (AP Photo)

On Cassidy Nurse's first day of school, classmates kept approaching her and saying, "There's a girl who looks just like you." The look-alikes met, felt an instant connection, and became friends, but it turns out the kinship had deeper origins: The girl was Cassidy's long-lost sister, kidnapped as a baby 17 years ago from a Cape Town hospital, the Guardian reports. After hearing about the resemblance, Celeste and Morne Nurse arranged to meet their daughter's new friend, contacted police, and got a DNA test to prove it was their abducted child, the BBC reports. A 50-year-old woman, said to have no other children and living just a few miles from the Nurses with her husband, has been charged with kidnapping, fraud, and contravening the Children's Act. The rescued teen is in the care of social workers and receiving counseling, the BBC notes.

Celeste Nurse was napping in the hospital's maternity ward shortly after her first child, Zephany, was born in April 1997, IOL News notes; she had the newborn in her arms, but when she awoke, the baby was gone. The Nurses had three other children after Zephany's abduction, but they never gave up hope: They celebrated Zephany's birthday every year, and in a 2010 interview, Morne Nurse told a local paper, "My daughter is out there, and she is going to come home," per the Guardian. Zephany was reunited with her mom for the first time yesterday, and an aunt tells the Guardian that Celeste Nurse "was very excited. She cried. ... She said she's got a very pretty, very beautiful daughter." The family Zephany grew up with isn't as happy: Per the Guardian, the accused woman's sister reportedly said, "She has been part of our lives for ever. And now she’s just gone." (A Texas girl missing for 12 years was found safe last year in Mexico.)

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