2 charged with selling baby
DAYTONA BEACH — A Holly Hill grandmother sold her 8-week-old grandson for $30,000 in a shopping-center parking lot Friday before investigators rushed in to arrest her and her boyfriend, state law enforcement agents said.
“This transaction today was: ‘Take this baby, give us our money and go,’ ” Florida Department of Law Enforcement Resident Agent-in-Charge Wayne Ivey said as officers took Patty Bigbee, 45, and her 42-year-old beau Lawrence Works to the Volusia County Branch Jail after questioning Friday night.
“… They were looking to sell this infant to anyone,” Ivey said.
The sale happened in the parking lot near Best Buy on International Speedway Boulevard, investigators said, where Bigbee and Works parked, met their buyer and began unloading baby toys and a stroller from their vehicle.
The buyer was a confidential source from Tampa who found the baby for sale late last month — Ivey declined to explain how she did that, or if it was online — and went to authorities. FDLE agents then traced Bigbee to Holly Hill.
The buyer’s “motive for this whole thing was to protect this child,” Ivey said. “They recognized the depth of what was happening.”
Investigators said Bigbee’s asking price for the baby started at $75,000 but shrank to $30,000 after several days of negotiations.
Bigbee, the boy’s maternal grandmother, had physical custody of him for at least the past several weeks, Ivey said. The boy’s mother has been incarcerated on unrelated charges, and the FDLE wouldn’t identify her Friday.
At the scene of the sale, cautious officers waited until the infant was safe in the buyer’s car seat “before the takedown ever took place,” Ivey said.
Three hours later, Bigbee, a petite, blonde woman with short hair and large, dark-rimmed glasses, hunched over to hide her face as agents brought her out the front door of the FDLE office in Daytona Beach and put her into a patrol car. Several TV cameramen with bright lights crowded her as she was locked into the back seat without a word.
Her boyfriend, Works, was placed in the seat beside her; he also kept quiet.
The baby boy, meanwhile, was in Department of Children & Families custody.
“Who would sell a child for money?” asked Special Agent Supervisor Alexandra Gaskins, who handled the investigation from its origin in Tampa. “We’re just thankful now that DCF has the child.”
Ivey called the case “appalling,” “a strange situation” and “a sad state of affairs” and said it was the first such investigation for the FDLE.
The pair had recently moved into their apartment on Catherine Avenue and bought a brand-new Chevrolet Malibu, neighbor Richard Wells said. At first, he said, Bigbee’s daughter lived there, too; but she was gone a few weeks after her baby was born.
“They took good care of him,” Wells said of Bigbee and Works, who he often saw holding the boy or bouncing him on a knee. “They seemed like they loved him.”
“They were fairly new here, but they were very … colorful,” he said. “Always sitting out front.”
Another neighbor said a SWAT team was at the apartment earlier Friday, searching for evidence.
The FDLE’s Ivey said money appeared to be the main motivation in the case.
“We know the financial aspect was a very big part for them,” he said. “As for their total motive … we don’t have the ability to answer that right now.”
Bigbee was charged with illegal sale of a child and communication fraud; Works was charged with principal to illegal sale of a child.
Works was arrested earlier this year on a charge of obstruction by a disguised person, and he was convicted on a 2009 charge of fleeing and eluding police, court records show.
FDLE records indicate he has four aliases other than “Lawrence Works,” four different dates of birth and two alternate Social Security numbers.
Bigbee doesn’t have a criminal history in Florida, according to state records.
The two remained held Friday night at the Volusia County Branch Jail. Bigbee was being held on $100,000 bail; Works’ bail was $1,500.