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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 09:28 GMT
Mother reunited with 'dead' child
Luzaida Cuevas and her six-year-old daughter
Ms Cuevas always believed her child was alive
A Philadelphia woman and her daughter have been reunited six years after the child was believed to have died in a house fire.

The reunion came six weeks after 31-year-old Luzaida Cuevas recognised the girl as her child at a birthday party; DNA tests later confirmed this.

Police say a distant relative kidnapped the girl and brought her up as her own.

The woman allegedly set fire to the house from which she abducted the child to cover up her crime.

Film script

Ms Cuevas and the child she called Delimar Vera were officially reunited on Monday.

She then took the girl home where the family planned "a small private gathering of friends and family" to celebrate, her lawyer told the Associated Press news agency.

The events leading to Ms Cuevas finding her daughter after such a long time could come straight from a film script - and producers are aiming to transform the real life story to the screen.

Mrs Cuevas was at a child's birthday party in January, when she noticed that one of the children there bore a striking resemblance to her own.

"When she smiled, when she was a baby, she drew a dimple, and the little girl, she smiled, and the dimple was there," Ms Cuevas said.

Delimar Vera was thought to have died in a fire in 1997, when she was only 10 days old.

Investigators assumed the baby's body was consumed by the flames.

Trauma

Ms Cuevas escaped the blaze with her other children, but she never accepted that her baby had died - pointing to the fact a bedroom window was mysteriously open, even though it was December.

Carolyn Correa, a cousin by marriage of the girl's father, is alleged to have kidnapped the girl and taken her to New Jersey to raise her as her own daughter.

She has been charged with arson, kidnapping and 13 other counts.

Child psychologists say the change could be traumatic for the girl, who has left the only home and family she ever knew.

AP reports that her parents have decided to minimise the confusion by calling her by the name she was given by her alleged kidnapper - Aaliyah Hernandez.




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The BBC's Clive Myrie
"Now the lies are over"



SEE ALSO:
'Dead' baby found six years later
02 Mar 04  |  Americas


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