The guards at the lingerie store on Broadway stopped the two 17-year-olds around 1:10 p.m. Thursday when they made the horrifying discovery.
BY THOMAS TRACY , CHELSIA ROSE MARCIUS AND BILL HUTCHINSON / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
PUBLISHED: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2013, 3:24 PM
UPDATED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2013, 4:56 PM
A suspected teen shoplifter was busted Thursday after she was found to be carrying a dead fetus in a plastic bag while swiping lingerie at a midtown Victoria’s Secret, cops said.
The horrifying discovery at the Herald Square store occurred after a security guard spotted the 17-year-old girl and a pal snatching sexy undergarments off the rack and called police.
Tiona Rodriguez from her Facebook page was taken to Bellevue Hospital for evaluation.
Officers responded to what seemed like a routine property crime. But as they corralled the two girls, store security guards noted a strong odor and made the gruesome find.
One of the teens, Tiona Rodriguez, told police she suffered a miscarriage the day before. Rodriguez, already the mother of a young, healthy son, was taken to Bellevue Hospital.
KEN MURRAY/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS—-The home of Tiona Rodriguez, who was carrying a fetus while shoplifting at Victoria’s Secret, was inspected by police.
A police source said she was at least 61/2 months pregnant when she went into labor. But another source said Rodriguez was “nearly full-term.”
“She said she didn’t know what to do,” the source said.
KEN MURRAY—Police continue searching for evidence at Tiona Rodriguez’s apartment building.
On Wednesday night, Rodriguez posted on her Facebook page, complaining: “These Cramps, SON.” She also noted that she was excited about a job interview she had Wednesday at Chipotle.
Police set up a command center Thursday night at the Glendale, Queens, home of Rodriguez’s friend, Francis Estevez. Detectives believe she may have had the male fetus there, sources said.
WABC 7—The shocking story grabbed immediate headlines.
After paramedics arrived at the Victoria’s Secret flagship store Thursday, Rodriguez, who was wearing sneakers and sweatpants, was taken out in a wheelchair. Hours later, officials from the medical examiner’s office removed the fetus. Cops swarmed the 50,000-square-foot store on Broadway at W. 34th St., conducting an investigation even as customers, most of them oblivious to the disturbing find, continued shopping.
“She’s a good girl. I can’t believe she would do that,” said Zami Ford, 17, a neighbor of Rodriguez’s in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “Who the hell would do that? That’s sickening.”
ALEC TABAK FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS—The Herald Square Victoria’s Secret, where a security guard discovered ostensible human child remains in a suspected shoplifter’s bag.
Ford said he didn’t even realize Rodriguez was pregnant. He said Rodriguez lives with her mother and son, who is about 2 years old.
“She goes to school. She does what she has to do. She’s no problem,” Ford said. “We grew up together. I’ve known her since she was little. She was probably nervous and didn’t know what to do. She would never hurt anyone.”
ALEC TABAK FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS—NYPD detectives carries the evidence bag onto the streets of Manhattan.
An autopsy will be conducted to confirm Rodriguez’s story, sources said.
The drama unfolded just after 1 p.m. in the middle of one of the city’s busiest shopping districts. The Victoria’s Secret security guard confronted Rodriguez and Estevez, also 17, after he suspected they were stealing. He took them into a back room and called police.
Tiona Rodriguez’s Facebook post about ‘cramps.’
As the teens were being cuffed by cops, store security guards discovered the fetus while searching their bags, sources said. The fetus was discovered in a black plastic bag and appeared to have been hastily wrapped in clothes. The plastic bag was in the bottom of another bag and covered with the stolen undergarments, a source said.
While Rodriguez was being examined at Bellevue Hospital, her friend, Estevez, was taken to the Midtown South Precinct stationhouse for questioning.
“She said she didn’t know what to do,” the source said about the 17-year-old Tiona Rodriguez.
Both Rodriguez and Estevez were charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. Customers at Victoria’s Secret were stunned to learn a fetus was found in the store. But most pitied Rodriguez.
“That’s horrible,” said shopper Yvonne Sonera, 44, a Bronx mom. “She must be going through a big depression. She must have been wondering how she was going to get rid of it.”
SCHWARTZ, MICHAEL, FREELANCE—-Pedestrians walked by the store unaware of the horrible discovery.
As part of the investigation, cops went to Rodriguez’s home in the Marcy Houses, apparently to search her room for any evidence of the tragic birth.
“She had to have hidden that pregnancy for a while,” said neighbor Lydia Perez, 50. “I saw her outside here the other day with her family, and her baby. You would never know there were any problems.”