LeBeth Crisp of Texico said she met suspected baby kidnapper Rayshuan Parson in January during a maternity stay at the same Lubbock hospital where a baby was abducted. Crisp had her fifth child at the hospital. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer
A Texico woman who had a baby in January at Lubbock’s Covenant Medical Center’s Lakeside Campus says she repeatedly encountered suspected baby kidnapper Rayshaun Parson during her stay.
LeBeth Crisp, a mother of five whose youngest daughter was born Jan. 9, said Parson told her she was visiting a friend at the maternity unit.
Parson, 21, of Clovis is charged in the abduction of Mychael Darthard-Dawodu, who was 3 days old when taken Saturday from Covenant-Lakeside in Lubbock.
The newborn was returned safely to her parents and Parson was arrested Sunday in Clovis.
Crisp said she spoke to Parson four or five times over a five-day period in January. She said she believes Parson may have been shopping for a baby.
D. Taara Williams of Lafayette, La., Parson’s great-aunt, said Parson has experienced a series of emotionally devastating events in recent months and withdrawn from family members. Williams said she did not know if Parson was at the Lubbock hospital in January.
Crisp said she did not see Parson as a threat during their conversations.
“She was really nice. She had intelligent conversations with me. She seemed like an OK person,” Crisp said.
Williams said Parson’s emotional stability has been challenged because of a recent miscarriage, the incarceration of her fiance and the loss of a relationship with her fiance’s 6-year-old son, who was returned to the care of his biological mother.
“The family members around her were repeatedly going to her house, (but she) would not open the door — would not let them in,” Williams said.
When Crisp heard initial reports of Sunday’s kidnapping, the suspect’s description was nagging at her, she said. Video footage of the suspect leaving the hospital grabbed her attention, the puffy, fur-rimmed hooded jacket and body shape striking a chord of familiarity. It wasn’t until she saw Parson’s photo from her jail booking that Crisp said she knew for certain it was the same woman.
“I had chills all over my body — I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Crisp said Parson told her she was from Clovis and they found themselves talking about icy road conditions on the drive to Lubbock.
Crisp said Parson told her she had recently had a baby and also had a child attending kindergarten at Bella Vista Elementary.
They had conversations about the security measures at the hospital, discussing the armbands placed on the babies, designed to trigger alarms if they are taken from the unit, Crisp said. They talked about how long premature babies needed to stay in the hospital and about how the staff went about procedure.
Crisp said she recalls seeing Parson on more than one occasion wandering the floor in the women’s unit late at night, which seemed odd to her even then. Crisp was in the intensive care unit due to complications from her daughter’s delivery, and as days passed, she said she wondered why Parson was still around and why she never had the newborn she spoke about with her.
Crisp said she has been calling law-enforcement authorities and Covenant officials to tell them about her encounter.
“I wanted them to pull the (surveillance) tapes,” she said.
Gwen Stafford, senior vice president of Covenant Health System, said hospital officials are taking Crisp’s information seriously and though she declined to confirm her patient history, citing confidentiality concerns, she said she has no reason to doubt her story.
A member of Covenant’s staff had a long conversation with Crisp on Wednesday regarding her concerns and forwarded her information to law-enforcement authorities, Stafford said.
Lt. Scott Hudgens, spokesperson for the Lubbock Police Department, said detectives have Crisp’s contact information and are planning to contact her. Hudgens said he was not aware of any other reported sightings of Parson at the hospital prior to the kidnapping.
Crisp said she believes security in the women’s unit is lax, with open access to patient rooms and no checkpoints at entryways to the floor.
“I’m not trying to say anything bad against Rayshaun,” Crisp said. “I’m upset with the hospital because this shouldn’t have happened.”
Hospital staff has already begun implementing changes to security in the women’s unit, Stafford said.
In response to the kidnapping, measures have been taken to limit access to patient rooms and other measures are evolving, she said. “Additional protocols are in place and have been communicated to physicians, staff, office staff and patients.”
Parson is being held in the Dickens County Correctional Center in Dickens, Texas, pending a court hearing scheduled today.