PHILADELPHIA – A woman pleaded no contest Wednesday to charges that she kidnapped an infant during a 1997 house fire and raised the girl as her own for six years.
Carolyn Correa (search), 42, pleaded no contest to kidnapping, interfering with parental custody and conspiracy. She faces up to 25 to 50 years in prison.
Shortly after the 1997 fire, investigators concluded that 10-day-old Delimar Vera (search) had died. Last year, however, a DNA test revealed Delimar was alive and had been raised by Correa of Willingboro, N.J. She had named the girl Aaliyah.
Birth parents Pedro Vera and Luz Ida Cuevas sat quietly in the courtroom during Wednesday's hearing. The girl, now 7, didn't attend. Cuevas, speaking through a translator after the hearing, said "everything is fine" with Delimar.
Cuevas has said she instantly recognized the dimpled, dark-haired little girl as her daughter at a January 2004 birthday party given by Pedro Vera's sister.
Correa was originally charged with setting the house fire, but a judge dismissed those charges because experts could not say conclusively that the blaze was set.
Cuevas and Vera were awarded legal custody of their daughter last March. The three met several times to prepare the girl for the transition to her mother's home.