Breona Moore found out at age 14 she was unable to have children.
At age 19, she started telling people she was pregnant. Her mother found out and told the teen she believed she needed mental health treatment.
Instead, Moore balked and went to live with her boyfriend. By August 2012, Moore devised a plan to get the baby she longed for.
“I fell into a deep depression and felt less than a woman,” she said.
So, on Aug. 23, 2012, dressed in nursing scrubs she had just purchased, Moore walked into Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, told a 3-day-old boy’s parents she needed to take him briefly and left with the infant. She hid the baby in a bag, zipped it closed and walked out of the hospital. Six hours later, Moore was caught after a citywide manhunt, hiding in a janitorial closet in a Downtown office building.
On Tuesday, Moore was sentenced to 2½ to five years in prison, to be followed by 10 years’ probation and lifetime registration as a Megan’s Law offender. Common Pleas Judge Randal B. Todd said she will get credit for the 22 months she has served since her arrest.
“There are no words to express how remorseful I am,” Moore told the court.
She apologized to the baby’s parents, her family and even to UPMC and Magee for forcing the hospital system to go on lockdown that afternoon. Moore spoke words intended for the baby’s mother, but the prosecution said the victim‘s family did not attend the hearing.
“I hope you know I never meant to make you worry about baby Bryce,” Moore said. She called the boy’s mother “a great mom.”
“I hope I will be as blessed as you some day.”
Moore told Judge Todd that since she has been receiving mental health treatment, she is better. She spent more than eight months at Torrance State Hospital after her arrest because she was incompetent to stand trial.
“I am a changed person — inside and out,” she said. “I pray everyone can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
Lisa Woodbury, Moore’s mother, asked the court for leniency, based on her daughter’s emotional struggles.
“I wish you guys would take some time and understand she was never diagnosed with any mental health issues before,” she said. “She’s not a bad child.”
Ms. Woodbury told the court her daughter was supposed to go to Edinboro University to study psychology, but Moore’s mental health issues sidetracked her.
“There is still a light inside of Bre that could be brought forth with help,” said Moore’s aunt, JoAnn Pinno. “With proper help, Bre could be the person she always should have been.”
Deputy district attorney Janet Necessary told Judge Todd the crime was premeditated and could easily have resulted in the baby’s death after he was stuffed inside a zippered bag.
“This was not an impulse or spur-of-the-moment thing,” she said. “The defendant made a detailed plan.”
Moore convinced people she was pregnant, and she even posted pictures of the kidnapped baby on Facebook.
She hid clothing at a dumpster near the hospital that she and the baby could change into, Ms. Necessary said. Moore also hid baby supplies in the closet of the building where she eventually was caught.
“This was a long-standing delusion, and I submit it’s a very dangerous delusion,” Ms. Necessary said.
In sentencing Moore, Judge Todd said he had to balance the danger posed to society with Moore’s mental health concerns. He also noted that once she was caught, the young woman was cooperative and pleaded guilty.
“I can only imagine what those parents would have gone through,” he said. “I would have been out of my mind.”
Paula Reed Ward: email@example.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard. First Published June 24, 2014 12:00 AM