Suspect in KOP Kidnapping is Daughter of Pa. Republican Power Broker
The sprawling King of Prussia Mall played host Thursday night to the kind of paralyzing terror that a parent of a small child hopes to never experience: getting momentarily distracted, and then finding an empty space where their child had just been.
Seven-week-old Ahsir Simmons was taken from right under his mother’s nose inside the mall’s food court shortly before 5:30 p.m., authorities said. In this case, the culprit wasn’t a menacing figure who swooped in quietly from the shadows.
Cherie Amoore, 32, allegedly abducted the baby boy after bumping into his mother apparently at random, and then chatting her up pleasantly for a while, said Upper Merion Police Chief Tom Nolan.
Amoore is the daughter of Renee Amoore, the deputy chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
“She did befriend the mother. She walked around with them and then followed them into the food court,” he said. “At one point, when the baby started to fuss, [Amoore] picked up the baby and tried to calm him down. The mom got distracted with a phone call, and [Amoore] quickly left.”
It didn’t take long for panic to set in. Local police and the FBI responded immediately to the reported abduction, Nolan said, and photos of baby Ahsir were shared across social media and through local news outlets.
A blurry image of Amoore leaving the mall with the infant also made the rounds. She had apparently walked around the mall with him for at least a half hour, Nolan said.
Minutes turned into hours, each one filled with a growing sense of dread. Investigators ultimately tracked Amoore to her house in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, at 10:18 p.m., according to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.
Baby Ahsir was unharmed. Amoore was apparently home alone with him.
“She freely admitted to taking the baby in the statement she gave to investigators,” Nolan said.
Steele described the incident as “every parent’s worst nightmare.”
Amoore was officially charged Friday with felony counts of kidnapping of a minor, unlawful restraint and related offenses. She was led handcuffed to an arraignment, wearing a purple hooded sweatshirt and purple sweat pants.
She remained quiet as a small crowd of reporters surrounded her, asking why she kidnapped the baby or if she felt any remorse.
Nolan said Amoore told investigators that in early February, she gave birth to a baby boy who soon passed away, and the loss fueled her impulsive decision to run off with Ashir.
Investigators haven’t been able to verify that claim, he said.
Renee Amoore is the founder and president of the Amoore Group, an organization that includes three companies: Amoore Health Systems Inc., 521 Management Group Inc., and the Ramsey Educational and Development Institute, according to her biography on the Pennsylvania GOP’s website.
A woman who answered the phone at Renee Amoore’s house this afternoon identified herself as a relative, and said Amoore didn’t want to comment.
“Just pray for [Cherie],” she said. “And pray for the baby’s family.”
Nolan said child abductions — especially in crowded environments like a mall — are rare.
“You do hear of cases where a child wanders off, but in this one, the mom was right there,” he said.
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