TOPSFIELD — The former babysitter of a 2-year-old girl who was abducted from her home in Hamilton early Friday, triggering a massive search by air and land, has been arrested on charges of kidnapping, police said Saturday.
Abigail Hanna, 21, of Topsfield, is accused of breaking into the home of toddler Lyndon Albers, abducting the child, and beating her, police said. The girl, who was last seen around 3 a.m. Friday, was found about six hours later, naked and bruised with her head shaved, on a roadside in Rowley.
Hanna was arrested Saturday morning and charged with kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a child, and breaking and entering in the nighttime, Hamilton police said in a statement. She is being held without bail, and will be arraigned Monday at Newburyport District Court.
Lyndon remained hospitalized Saturday, but was improving, according to Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for the Essex district attorney’s office.
Investigators declined to comment on the possible motivation for the crime. Hanna’s Facebook page shows a sunny young woman with a love of travel, crafting and poetry, and who announced her engagement on Nov. 5.
“She didn’t seem like the kind of person that could hurt anybody,” said a relative of her fiance, who declined to be named to protect the family’s privacy. The relative said she had taken Hanna and her fiance out for breakfast over the summer, and she seemed “very mild, not an aggressive person at all.”
Hanna’s fiance did not return requests for comment; his Facebook page was deleted on Saturday afternoon.
A young woman who attended high school with Hanna in Connecticut for two years, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her privacy, said Hanna transferred into The Master’s School, a Christian preparatory school, when she was a junior.
“When I first met her I thought she was really nice, pretty sweet,” said the classmate. “She was usually very insightful when we had conversations, or in class.”
Hanna did some babysitting in Connecticut, said the classmate, and there were never any problems. Hanna’s Pinterest account shows a board dedicated to babysitting, with arts and crafts projects for toddlers, suggestions on “positive things to say to kids,” and recipes for edible Play-Doh.
The classmate said that Hanna grappled with depression and “body image” issues, but nothing that would foreshadow the events of Friday.
“I didn’t expect something so severe to happen,” said the classmate. “Especially because it seemed like after high school she had more support from others, and was doing what she wanted to do.... I was honestly just shocked.”
Hanna’s Facebook page, which was authenticated by two people who know her, describes her as a counselor at Gordon College, a Christian school, and says she is studying English literature there. A spokesman for the school, however, said she spent less than a semester there in the fall of 2014. Hanna worked in a summer program with teens in the summer of 2014, the spokesman said.
The high school classmate said Hanna loved to write, and her Facebook includes links to poems she composed for a teen-oriented website and magazine.
“Reaching towards an / Infinite wasteland, I / Begged for release. / Broken in motion and / Onward instead, yet / Never to find peace,” reads one short poem called “Ribbon.”
On Saturday morning, a woman declined to comment as she left a North Street home listed in public records as Hanna’s.
The neighborhood is a heavily wooded stretch off Route 1, with a horse farm on the street, and chickens on at least one property. The Hanna home is a four-bedroom colonial valued at more than $875,000, according to property records.
Elena Baer, 80, lives down the street from Hanna, and said she did not know the accused babysitter, but was saddened to hear what happened to Lyndon.
“What a shame. I’m so sorry for that baby,” said Baer, who is a grandmother herself. “I hope they can get to the bottom of it.”
Baer and her husband, Melvin, said they have lived in the neighborhood since 1994.
They wonder what happened to Lyndon.
“The details will come out,” Melvin Baer said. “They must have some strong evidence to make an arrest like that.”
A woman visiting the street said she was “horrified” by what happened to the toddler.
“It was the most disturbing thing I have ever heard,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “I don’t understand how anyone could do that to a kid.”
No one answered the door at Lyndon’s home on Saturday. A woman who lives nearby said she was relieved an arrest was made.
“I’m sure all the mothers are going to be relieved,” said the neighbor, who declined to give her name.
She described Lyndon as a “doll.”
“They’re all beautiful children,” she said. “This is not a neighborhood where things like that happen.”
Globe correspondent Alexandra Koktsidis contributed to this report. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi. Evan Allen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.