Kidnapped Abilene girl, mother recall events 18 years later

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – It was a scene that played out 18 years ago on KTAB.

Law enforcement and media rushed to the south side Walmart in Abilene around 4 p.m. on August 15, 2002 in response to the kidnapping of 1-month-old baby girl Crystal Nancy Chavez.

“I just yelled, ‘Don’t take my baby, that’s my baby,'” said Margarita Chavez.

Nancy’s mother, Margarita Chavez, walked KTAB through the events of that day, when her baby was kidnapped in broad daylight, all of it captured on Walmart surveillance video.

“The first thing I did was put the baby carriage inside of the car,” said Chavez.

Chavez says she had her other daughter with her, who was also in their minivan after doing some shopping. When she put her basket into the basket return, she turned around and saw Paula Lynn Roach taking Nancy out of the car.

“I ran in front of my vehicle and told her, ‘That’s my baby, don’t take my baby,’ but hanging on the window,” said Chavez.

Chavez hung on to the window and was dragged across the parking lot but eventually fell off, watching Roach drive away with her baby.

Thomas Valdez and Lynn Beard, who were detectives with the Abilene Police Department (APD) at the time, were immediately dispatched to their assignments.

For Valdez, the first on his list was coming face to face with the parents.

“I was going to interview them, and was trying to get as much information as we could,” said Valdez.

Meanwhile, Beard headed out to find the car that took Nancy away.

“It was literally a bunch of us going door to door to door, knocking on doors, scratching cars off the list, ‘This isn’t the right one, this isn’t the right one,'” said Beard. “Every single person around that case, whether it was our citizens, or the media, or the police department, everybody was working together.”

They were just a couple of doors away from finding the driver’s house when the team had a break in the case.

“Another police agency had called in to say that they had a woman and a man stopped and they had an infant with them,” said Valdez.

This was in Quanah, Texas, which is just about two hours away from the Key City.

“Once we communicated with the sheriff and made the determination that that was baby Nancy, we made it to Quanah,” said Valdez.

Now 18 years later, Crystal Nancy Chavez is about to begin her senior year at Abilene High School, and as she looks back on the footage from that day, she says her mom and dad never talked much about the case.

“It almost felt like I wasn’t even watching myself,” said Nancy Chavez.

Valdez and Beard haven’t seen Nancy since the day they returned her to her mother, but KTAB brought them all together for a reunion that was 18 years in the making.

“It wasn’t very long ago that my wife and I were talking about this and wondered how she is,” said Beard.

Even though each of these four lead different lives than they once did, they will always remain connected by this one memory that shook the city 18 years ago.

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