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Officer: ‘Best and most fulfilling day of my life’

New Mexico police officer Paul Crowe talks with TODAY host Meredith Vieira about his search for Mychael Darthard-Dawodu, a newborn baby kidnapped from a Texas hospital.
/ Source: TODAY

A 5-day-old baby kidnapped from a Texas hospital is back safe in her mother's arms because of tips from the public, technology and the determination of a New Mexico police officer who knocked on door after door until the child and a suspect were located.

“I kept remembering when my children were born and how helpless and how fragile they were at the hospital,” said Clovis, N.M., Police Officer Paul Crowe, appearing Monday on TODAY. “Knowing that this three-day-old baby was out there, in God knows what kind of condition, it really strengthened my resolve and made me go the extra mile to get this job done.”

Mychael Darthard-Dawodu was found safe and unharmed at a Clovis address Sunday night, shortly after police arrested a woman they believe snatched the child a day earlier from Covenant Lakeside Hospital in Lubbock, Texas.

After the child's ankle security bracelet was removed, a check of the hospital's security camera tapes revealed an image of a woman wearing hospital scrubs who took Mychael from a crib in her mother’s room on the pretense that the baby needed tests.

An Amber alert was issued, and Lubbock Police were quickly flooded with calls from concerned citizens. One tip focused on a woman in Clovis, N.M., about 100 miles away. Crowe said he learned about the kidnapping during his shift briefing about 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Lubbock Police supplied Clovis Police with a possible first name of a suspect and general location about 9:45 p.m. that night.

“I decided that this was worth the effort. I started about a three-block neighborhood canvas, waking people up at 10 or 11 at night,” Crowe told TODAY anchor Meredith Vieira. “I started getting little tidbits of information that raised suspicion .... We were able to zero in on [the suspect's] residence.”

Other officers arrested Rayshaun Parson, 21, about 10 p.m. CT Sunday, and quickly located Mychael at a nearby address a short time later.

“The first thing I did was go to the hospital and see baby Mychael,” Crowe said. “It was probably the best and most fulfilling day of my life. It was fabulous.”

Today, Mychael is back with her parents, Caisha Darthard and Michael Dawodu. Parson is being held on a charge of suspicion of kidnapping. The investigation is continuing.

— John Springer, TODAY contributor, and news reports