Woman denied bond in kidnapping of cousin's baby girl

Family says Stephanie Augustin, 23, may have been 'obsessed' with baby

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A woman was denied bond Monday after she was arrested on allegations that she kidnapped her cousin's 2-month-old daughter.

Scores of family members attended a bond hearing for Stephanie Augustin, 23, who was arrested over the weekend on charges of aggravated child abuse, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed burglary of a dwelling, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and kidnapping.

Augustin cried while facing Broward County Judge Stephen Zaccor, who ordered that Augustin undergo a mental health evaluation at the request of her sister, Betty Augustin. 

A cousin of both the baby's mother and Augustin told Local 10 News reporter Ben Kennedy that the family is in shock and that Augustin and the child's mother are very close.

Augustin and her 14-year-old cousin were arrested Saturday night after a Florida Highway Patrol trooper spotted Augustin's Nissan Altima on Florida's Turnpike in Fort Pierce.

According to Broward sheriff's detectives, Taraji Kemp was taken from her home on NW 14th Court, near Fort Lauderdale, just after 11 p.m. Friday.

The baby was later found abandoned at an apartment in Orange County, and was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children as a precaution. 

Local 10 News reporter Layron Livingston spoke to a neighbor Monday who said he saw Augustin's car pull in front of the apartment where Taraji lives with its lights off Friday night and leave shortly afterward.

Ronny Jackson said there was no screaming and he didn't suspect that anything was wrong until he saw deputies arrive at the home.

"No one screamed (or) yelled. Because if it was, they would have had a beat down on their hands. You know, we're talking about a baby," Jackson said.

BSO spokeswoman Joy Oglesby said Augustin, who is a cousin of the girl's mother, orchestrated the home invasion and kidnapping involving her teenage cousin. Oglesby said the teen was armed with a gun during the home invasion.

According to Oglesby, Augustin fled to Orange County, where she has an apartment, after the abduction and was headed back to South Florida when she was pulled over by a state trooper.

A motive remains unclear, but family members said Augustin might have been "obsessed" with the baby.

"I'm not sure what her motives were, why she reacted in such a crazy way, but I guess my other cousin probably was obsessed, or something like that, with my little cousin's baby," a woman who identified herself only as Veronica said.

Deputies said the teenager who was involved in the kidnapping is being held at a juvenile detention center. He does not have a prior arrest history.

About the Authors: