Marlene Santana: The 1985 infant abduction case is still unsolved

The kidnapping of Marlene Santana is one of the most baffling cases of infant abduction in American history.

In the annals of unsolved mysteries, few cases are as haunting and perplexing as the abduction of Marlene Santana. Born on October 18, 1985, in Brooklyn, New York, Marlene was just a newborn when she was taken from her mother’s arms by an unknown woman. Despite years of investigation, the case remains unsolved, leaving Marlene’s parents, Thomas and Francesca Santana, with unanswered questions and the hope for a reunion with their lost daughter. This article digs into the details of this enigmatic case, exploring the timeline, suspects, and the emotional toll it took on the Santana family.

Marlene Santana: The 1985 infant abduction case is still an unsolved mystery
Marlene Santana: Infant Abduction of America. Fandom / Shutterstock / MRU.INK

The Background

The birth of Marlene Santana

On that fateful day of October 18, 1985, at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, Marlene Santana entered the world. She was the beloved daughter of Thomas and Francesca Santana, a couple eagerly awaiting the arrival of their second child. Little did they know that their joy would soon turn into a nightmare.

The abduction
Composite of Marlene (age 2)
Composite of Marlene Santana (age 2). Fandom | Restored by MRU.INK

Three days after Marlene’s birth, Francesca encountered a woman outside the nursery who expressed an unusual fondness for her daughter. Francesca brushed it off as a passing comment, unaware that this encounter would lead to the devastating abduction of her baby. Later that evening, as Francesca and her sisters-in-law were leaving the hospital, the same woman approached them, brandishing a gun. She forced them to walk for several blocks until they reached a deserted junkyard. There, she demanded Marlene and fled in a car driven by an accomplice.

The investigation

Eyewitness descriptions and suspects

Eyewitnesses provided descriptions of the abductor, which aided in creating a composite sketch. The abductor was described as a Caucasian woman with Hispanic features, standing at 5’2″ and weighing approximately 130 pounds. She appeared to be between the ages of twenty-four and thirty in 1985, with dyed reddish-blonde hair. The accomplice’s car, used for the escape, was identified as a white 1976 Chevrolet Malibu with red lettering on the door.

Marlene Santana: The 1985 infant abduction case is still unsolved 1
A composite of the abductor. Fandom | Restored by MRU.INK
Sold for adoption?

One theory that emerged from the investigation is that Marlene may have been sold for adoption. Another similar abduction occurred at a different New York hospital the day before Marlene’s disappearance. In that case, the abducted infant was found alive at the abductor’s house, suggesting a possible pattern. However, the woman in the first case was ruled out as a suspect in Marlene’s abduction.

Emotional toll on the Santana Family
Composite of Marlene Santana (age 3)
Composite of Marlene Santana (age 3). Fandom | Restored by MRU.INK

The loss of their baby girl had a profound impact on the Santana family. Francesca no longer felt safe living in the United States and eventually returned to the Dominican Republic to be with Thomas and their two other children. Every year, on October 18, Thomas and Francesca hold a birthday party for Marlene, hoping that one day they will be able to celebrate it with their missing daughter.

The unsolved mystery

Continuing the search
Age progression of Marlene (age 25)
Age progression of Marlene (age 25). Fandom | Restored by MRU.INK

Despite the tireless efforts of law enforcement and the Santana family, the case of Marlene Santana remains unsolved. Marlene would now be in her thirties, while her abductor would be in her sixties. The passage of time has not diminished the determination of those involved in the investigation to find answers and bring closure to Marlene’s parents.

The power of hope

The Santana family’s unwavering hope serves as a beacon of light in the face of this dark mystery. They continue to raise awareness about Marlene’s case, hoping that someone with crucial information will come forward. The power of hope, combined with the relentless pursuit of justice, may one day lead to a breakthrough in this perplexing case.

Final words

The abduction of Marlene Santana remains one of America’s most perplexing infant abduction cases. Born into a loving family, her life took a tragic turn when she was taken from her mother’s arms by an unknown woman. The investigation into her disappearance has spanned decades, with no definitive answers in sight. Yet, the Santana family persists in their search for Marlene, fueled by hope and an unwavering belief that one day they will be reunited with their missing daughter. The mystery of Marlene Santana serves as a reminder that behind every unsolved case lies a family desperate for answers and closure.

After reading about the unsolved case of Marlene Santana, read about these 20 most infamous unsolved cases of child murders and missings.