A disabled six-year-old Hasidic boy and his exhausted but grateful parents returned home today, three days after a former baby sitter allegedly kidnapped him and took him south for holistic treatment.
Theresa Giannola Goldberg, 40, who was arrested in Virginia, faces kidnapping charges once she is brought back to New York, authorities said. Her husband, David Goldberg, was arrested Friday on unspecified charges.
Chaim Weill, who has cerebral palsy and can't talk, was found unharmed Thursday in a car parked outside a suburban Richmond hotel with Mrs. Goldberg, authorities said.
The frail child was taken home in an ambulance with his family.
"Praise the Lord. Thanks for taking care of us and not forsaking us," read a blue-and-white banner in Yiddish placed outside the Weill family's apartment building in Brooklyn.
Mrs. Goldberg, a Jehovah's Witness, wanted to take the boy to South Carolina for "holistic healing," a nonmedical cure, said Capt. John Ward, an officer in Williamsburg, Virginia.
During Chaim's ordeal, Jacob Weill said, his son's sidelocks were cut off and his yarmulke was thrown away so that he would not be recognized. Hasidic Jews believe in a biblical prohibition against cutting males' side curls.
Weill said he still does not understand "why someone so nice to a child would do something like that."
Hundreds of people welcomed Chaim when he was brought on a stretcher into the building. "He looked pale and confused at first. But then he smiled at the neighbors. He recognized the neighbors," said a neighbor who identified herself only as Frady.
Leah Weill, the boy's mother, said Mrs. Goldberg took Chaim for a walk while the family celebrated a Jewish holiday Tuesday, but they didn't return. Police found the boy's wheelchair on a street Wednesday night.
Members of the area's Hasidic community went door-to-door seeking clues. The Jehovah's Witnesses condemned the apparent kidnapping and offered help.
Mrs. Weill said Mrs. Goldberg was her son's paid baby sitter for three years until he was about 3 1/2 years old, and voluntarily baby-sat for the family since then. "She loved him, a kind of twisted love," Mrs. Weill said. "She should never be allowed near my family."
According to a clerk at the Fairfield-Marriott Inn in Chester, 15 miles south of Richmond, Mrs. Goldberg pulled her car into the parking lot about 4 p.m. and took a nap in the back seat. FBI agents arrested her there.
Mrs. Goldberg was tracked down after a detective received information that led investigators to Texas and then Chester.