Sister Mary had taken an interest in the girl before she was born, befriending her pregnant mother, driving her to doctor appointments and the grocery store.
Little did the parents know Laura Caballero’s intentions were far from saintly as she snatched the baby and fled to Argentina.
Now the former nun is in a Miami prison, charged with kidnapping.
The child’s parents, Jose Ochoa Avalos and Adai Lopez Vasquez, were reunited with their child for the first time in six months Tuesday as Sister Mary was hauled off to jail.
The parents said they met Sister Mary, 53, about two years ago in central Florida and she offered to help the Mexican immigrants with the birth of their first child. The couple accepted the generosity, but the nun became insistent on keeping the child after she was born.
She asked for baby Maria to move with her at St. Filumena Catholic Church and even offered the poor couple $2,000 for the newborn.
"The nun grew consistently more controlling and continued to use threats and intimidation to gain access of the child," said Lake County Sheriff's Lt. John Herrell.
Federal authorities are still investigating why a nun would steal the child. Some speculate Sister Mary was part of a child trafficking ring. Herrell said it could be as simple as "a woman desperately wanting a child of her own."
Eventually, Sister Mary got her hands on the child after persuading the couple to allow her to drop baby Maria off at a relative’s house. The nun and the baby weren’t seen again.
Maria is now 2 years old and back with her rightful parents. Her former mother, Caballero, is facing serious time in prison.