November 18, 1997 in Nation/World

Kidnapped Girl Finally Found Baby Taken Seven Years Ago Turns Up In Puerto Rico

Associated Press

A tiny birthmark and a distinctive smile were enough for police to know they had found their girl nearly seven years after she had been kidnapped as an infant from her San Diego home.

Fourteen-month-old Crystal Leann Anzaldi disappeared on Dec. 8, 1990. Authorities announced Monday that she had turned up more than 3,000 miles away in Puerto Rico after the woman who claimed to be her mother was arrested.

“We’re thrilled that Crystal has been found,” said Jan Caldwell, a spokeswoman with the FBI in San Diego. “She’s healthy, and that’s good.”

Authorities said the truth began to emerge when Nilza Gierbolini Guzman, 35, was investigated for allegedly abusing Crystal. Details of that probe weren’t released.

But police became suspicious when the child’s birth certificate turned out to be fake and they began a search for her true identity, said Anibal Torres, director of special investigations for the Puerto Rican Justice Department.

“It was a really striking thing,” Torres said Monday. “This baby’s smile was so similar to this 8-year-old child’s. But it was the birthmark that really clinched it.”

Puerto Rican and federal investigators compared a recent picture of Crystal with more than 500 photos on the Internet site of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children before they turned up a match. The posting referred to a tiny birthmark just to the left of her nose, he said.

A genetic test showed that Gierbolini was not Crystal’s mother, said Torres. More tests confirmed on Friday that Crystal is the missing daughter of Dorothy and Jeffrey Anzaldi, a former officer at Coronado Naval Base at San Diego.

When confronted with the evidence, Gierbolini admitted the child was not hers, Torres said. She was charged in October with falsifying documents and still could face kidnapping charges, he said.

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