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Illinois and Mexican Women Ordered to Stand Trial In Baby Abduction

February 1, 1987

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) _ A state judge has ordered a Mexican woman and a woman once named as an exemplary adoptive parent in Illinois to go on trial here on charges of child stealing.

Baja California Judge Alejandro Vazquez issued the ruling Friday after presiding over preliminary hearings for Bette Louis Winks, 49, of Alhambra, Calif., and Ivonne Lopez, 31, who maintains homes here and in Monterey Park, Calif.

Mrs. Winks’ husband, Charles H. Winks, 46, was detained for questioning but was released two days ago because the district attorney’s office had no case against him, Vazquez said.

The San Diego Union reported that Illinois authorities suspected Mrs. Winks of smuggling at least a dozen Hispanic children into that state for adoption, although no charges have been filed.

In 1982, Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson proclaimed the Winks, who lived in Hudson, Ill., until last year, to be Adoptive Parents of the Year, but the couple’s activities in recent years have aroused the interest of U.S. authorities.

Mrs. Winks and Ms. Lopez are charged with the Jan. 17 abduction of 1-year- old Maria Isabel Gonzalez Millan from her home in Tijuana.

The women face sentences ranging from three months to 15 years in prison if they are convicted. The length of the sentence would depend on which section of Mexican law the judge applies in the abduction case.

State Judicial police arrested Mrs. Winks and Ms. Lopez on Jan. 24 at Ms. Lopez’s Tijuana apartment, where police recovered the missing infant.

A year and a half ago, Illinois authorities armed with a search warrant found seven children, all apparently Hispanic, in the Winks’ Illinois home. Each child was about a year old, but the couple could not produce their papers, said Tom Teague, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Ronald Dozier, Illinois state’s attorney general for McLean County, said that because Illinois state law makes no mention of buying babies, no charges were filed against the couple.

However, David Risley, U.S. attorney in Springfield, said he was monitoring the Tijuana case.

The children discovered at the home became wards of the state, as did six more Mexican children found in the couple’s home several months later, Teague said.

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