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Mums Horror: My Friend Plotted To Steal My Baby

When Angelique was getting ready to have her baby, her friend did the unthinkable
Ryland and me today
  • When Angelique Robledo, 18, met Kassandra Toruga, 18, the pair bonded over being pregnant with their firsts. 
  • So when Kassandra wanted to visit Angelique one week before her due date, she was excited to se how her belly had bloomed.
  • Only Kassandra had never been pregnant herself – she’d made the whole thing up, confessing to trying to kill the mum to be with the intention of stealing her baby.

Here Angelique tells her story in her own words

Running around the baby store, my new friend Kassandra, then 18, and I pointed our scanner guns at teddy bears, bottles, and adorable onesies, setting up our baby shower gift registries.

Aged 18, I was pregnant with my first baby with my boyfriend Josh, 21.

A few hours earlier, I’d been introduced to Kassandra through a mutual friend.

She was just 10 days younger than me, and was expecting her first child with her partner, so we instantly clicked.

‘We can get through this together,’ I said.

We’d spend hours together chatting about baby names and picking out items for our new arrivals.

‘I love this animal light projector,’ I said one day, showing her a picture of one lighting up a nursery.

We didn’t see each other for a few weeks, then one week out from my due date – on February 16, 2011 – Kassandra came to visit me at my parents’ house where I lived, while Josh was at work.

I was excited to see how her belly had bloomed as she was now six months along.

But she was barely showing at all.

Meanwhile, I was ready to pop!

Arriving with a big bag, Kassandra met my mum, Celeste, then 38, and we spent the day chatting.

Taking multiple calls throughout the day, Kassandra would always go into another room to speak.

Feeling some odd vibes, I went into the kitchen to help Mum with lunch.

‘Do you think she’s being weird?’ I asked Mum.

Me, pregnant with Ryland (Credit: Supplied)

‘She just seems like she needs a bit of extra attention. Pregnancy hormones make you crazy,’ Mum said.

Content with Mum’s answer, I went back to enjoying our time together, when Kassandra brought up the topic of C-sections.

‘What if you had to have a C-section?’ she asked, curiously.

‘I’ve had a C-section. It’s not that bad,’ Mum replied.

‘Where do they cut?’ Kassandra asked.

‘Right there,’ Mum pointed.

Feeling the same weird vibes return, I followed Mum back into the kitchen.

‘She’s six months pregnant and she’s not showing,’ I said, quietly.

‘Some women carry differently. Some don’t show at all,’ Mum shrugged.

I knew she was right, but why was I feeling so paranoid?

Pregnancy is making me crazy, I thought. 

Kassandra suggested we go out for a walk a few times, but I wasn’t keen.

‘I just want to sit on the lounge and eat junk food,’ I told her.

Feeling exhausted, by the early evening I hinted to Kassandra to leave.

But she didn’t get the message.

‘Where do they cut?’

Me and Josh (Credit: Supplied)

She probably needs the company, I figured, feeling bad for trying to rush her out.

When Mum left to take my brothers, Robert, then 14, and Isaac, then nine, to footy training, Kassandra seemed excited.

‘I can give you your presents now,’ she said, smiling. ‘Turn around and close your eyes.’

Sitting behind me, one by one, she dropped gifts into my lap – a baby onesie, baby cloth and a blanket.

Then she handed me a brand-new baby carrier.

‘This is way too expensive. I can’t accept this!’ I said.

‘I got two of them for my baby shower, I want you to have this one,’ she smiled.

‘I have one last present for you. It’s what you wanted!’ Kassandra said, coaxing me into my bedroom.

It must be the animal projector light, I thought, as we walked into the dark room. She is a good friend.

Why did I ever doubt her?

‘Turn around and close your eyes,’ Kassandra grinned again.

‘You’re going to love it. One, two…’ she started counting, holding my shoulder.

But suddenly, I was seized by the horrible feeling that I was in danger.

Jumping up from the bed on her count of three, I ran to flick on the light switch.

Feeling crazy, I rushed into the kitchen to calm myself down.

My precious newborn Ryland and me (Credit: Supplied)

Was this just pregnancy hormones making me nuts? I wondered.

Emerging shortly after, Kassandra’s pants were soaking wet.

‘I think my waters broke,’ she said, stammering.

‘Will you come with me to the hospital?’

‘I just need to tell Mum where I’m going to be,’ I replied.

‘Why do you have to tell your mum?’ Kassandra asked, sounding panicked.

Running into the bathroom, Kassandra took another call.

‘Actually I think I just peed myself!’ she said, looking embarrassed.

‘That was my husband. He’s coming to get me, but I don’t have anything to wear!’

Feeling sorry for her, I took some dresses from my wardrobe and left her to try them on in my room.

‘That dress looks great on you,’ I told Kassandra when she opened the door.

‘You can have it.’

Entering my bedroom, I noticed the candle I’d lit earlier was now out, and a smell of smoke filled the air.

‘Why is the candle out?’ I asked her.

Maddux, Josh, Scarlett, Ryland and me (Credit: Supplied)

‘I don’t know, maybe the wind blew it out?’ Kassandra replied.

But it smelled like something had burned. 

Relighting the candle, I left her to try on another dress.

Standing in the kitchen, I could see her shadow, pacing back and fourth, under the door frame.

Going back into my room, I noticed the candle was out again, only this time the burning smell was intense.

Meanwhile, Kassandra was looking for the source of the smell too.

Searching, I opened my wardrobe to find my clothes were on fire.

Fumbling with my phone to dial emergency services, I accidentally rang my best friend, Skylar, who lived down the street.

‘My house is on fire!

Come quick, bring your mum,’ I screamed frantically.

We need to get out of here, I realised, feeling dizzy as smoke filled the room.

Grabbing Kassandra, who looked stunned, I pulled her towards the garage.

As the door rolled open, Skylar and his mum arrived.

Sirens blared in the distance, and the ambulance, police and my parents all arrived at once.

Checking my vitals, the paramedics gave me oxygen before giving me the all clear.

I’m so grateful for my family (Credit: Supplied)

Kassandra was taken to hospital to be checked over.

Back inside, emergency services were trying to put out the fire, and Mum and my dad, Junior, then 41, were looking at me like I had some explaining to do.

‘I think she was going to hurt me,’ I said.

They stared at me like I was crazy and I started doubting myself.

Grabbing Kassandra’s big bag, there was only one way to prove if my horrible thoughts were real.

If the projector is in here, it proves that I’m crazy, I thought.

Putting my hand in the bag, I felt something metal, and pulled out two butcher’s knives, scissors, a nappy and baby clothes. Horrified, Mum ran out to show the police.

‘Look at what was in the bag. She was trying to kill my daughter!’ she screamed.

Police said there was enough evidence against Kassandra at that time, but chose to continue their investigation instead, so she wasn’t charged.

Still reeling from what had happened, I gave birth to my baby boy Ryland two weeks later, on February 26.

I didn’t trust anyone and wouldn’t let the nurses take him from my sight.

Arriving home from the hospital a week after that, I received the call that Kassandra Toruga had been arrested and charged with attempted murder, arson and burglary.

She had confessed to trying to kill me and cut me open, with the intention of stealing my baby.

She’d never been pregnant herself – she’d made the whole thing up.

However, the court, in Arizona, US, decided not to move forward on the recommended charge of attempted murder.

‘She was trying to kill my daughter!’

Ryland and me today (Credit: Supplied)

‘The Grand Jury looks at both the recommendations and what charges they believe can be successfully prosecuted,’ Pinal County Attorney’s Office spokesman Kostas Kalaitzidis said.

In February 2012, Toruga pleaded guilty by reason of insanity to attempted arson, and was sentenced to seven and a half years in a mental health facility.

Serving her full term, she was released back into the community in 2019.

Fearing for our safety now she was free, I worried Kassandra would come after my family.

Sitting my sweet Ryland down, I showed him a photo of Kassandra and told him the story of our narrow escape.

‘You’re so brave mum,’ Ryland said, wrapping his arms around me.

Since then, Josh and I got married and we welcomed two more adorable children, Maddux, now seven, and Scarlett, four.

An incredible big brother and talented football player, Ryland, now 11, was always meant for great things.

I struggled with PTSD, but feel so grateful every day for my beautiful family.

I now share my story to show people that it’s so important to trust your mother’s intuition.

If I hadn’t, my precious son and I might not be alive today.

Kassandra Toruga (Credit: Supplied)

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