An American woman who tried flying out of the Philippines with a 6-day-old baby hidden inside her carry-on bag was intercepted just before boarding a plane and has been charged with human trafficking, officials said Thursday.
The new details of how 43-year-old Jennifer Erin Talbot, of Ohio, passed through a Manila airport’s immigration counter without declaring the Filipino baby boy – and made it all the way to the boarding gate – emerged as officials presented Talbot to reporters.
Talbot appeared in handcuffs and an orange detainee shirt as officials escorted her out of a press conference in Manila. She hung her head low and tears rolled down her cheeks. When reporters asked her to comment, Talbot shook her head.
The Ohio native had planned Wednesday to board a Delta Air Lines flight out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to the United States with the baby inside a sling bag, airport officials said.
"There was really an intention to hide the baby," immigration official Grifton Medina told The Associated Press via telephone.
Airline staff discovered the baby when they went through the woman’s oversized carry-on luggage, officials said. Immigration personnel arrested Talbot at the airport after they said she was unable to produce any passport, boarding pass or government permits for the infant.
The investigation bureau said Talbot presented an affidavit at the airport, allegedly from the baby's mother – identified Maricris Dulap – giving consent for the baby to travel to the U.S., but it had not been signed by the mother. Talbot reportedly claimed to be the child's aunt.
The baby is now under the Social Welfare Department’s care.
NBI official Manuel Dimaano said Dulap gave her baby to Talbot in southern Davao city. He said investigators will try to determine how Talbot brought the baby out of Davao, which requires a city clearance for infants to be transported by a foreigner.
He said Dulap told the officers that she wanted to offer her baby for adoption, and there was no indication that she had sold the baby.
Dimaano said when he and other officials asked Talbot what she intended to do with the baby, she replied that she just wanted to give it "a name and a church blessing."
Talbot was charged with human trafficking because the baby hadn't been issued government travel approval, officials said. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
U.S. Embassy officials were notified of her arrest. It was unclear whether Talbot had been able to speak with them before being questioned.
Fox News' Melissa Leon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.