On December 15, 1997, the Cuevas' family home went up in flames. Their youngest child, Delimar Vera Cuevas, was sleeping in her bedroom crib at the time, and the family was later informed that she never made it out. She was only 10 days old. Put down the tissues, because this story has a happy ending.
Insurance paid for a new cradle! (Plus, the child lived.)
Six years later, Delimar's mother, Luzaida Cuevas, was attending a children's birthday party and saw a young girl who bore a striking resemblance to her other two children. Knowing that Delimar's body had never been found, Luzaida played on an insane hunch and told the little girl that she had gum in her hair. Luzaida then plucked a few of the hairs for a DNA test. That's a pretty big gamble, lady. Which is more likely: That you found your own deceased daughter at a party, or that you're the crazy woman who steals children's hair? Amazingly, Luzaida's hunch checked out and the tests proved that the little girl was indeed Delimar Vera Cuevas.
The house fire had been orchestrated by a woman named Carolyn Correa, who thought everybody acquired children like David Bowie's character in Labyrinth. So how did she maintain the charade for six years? Well, chalk that one up to some good old-fashioned lazy police work. Right from the outset, Delimar's mother had suspicions that something was wrong. When she tried to rescue Delimar during the fire, she discovered that her crib was empty and the bedroom window was mysteriously open. Generally speaking, 10-day-old babies do not "jump for it." But despite the fact that no body was found at the scene, the police still assumed that Delimar had perished in the blaze. They found bone fragments, but they turned out not to be human.
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Then they said Delimar was completely incinerated, even though experts agreed that the fire was nowhere near hot enough to do that. "Maybe she took off to ride the rails for a while," Officer No-Paperwork tried again.
Thankfully, Delimar went back to her birth family. She even got the obligatory Lifetime movie about her story and was invited to attend the film's premiere. So like we said: It's a sort of happy ending. Sure, there was a kidnapping, but at least nobody died in an inferno, and Tori Spelling didn't play anybody in the film adaptation.
Robin Warder is the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row and was recently involved in the making of a sci-fi short film called Jet Ranger of Another Tomorrow.
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Related Reading: While we're on the subject of defying death, here's a man who piloted his plane while standing on the wing. And if you don't think THAT'S harrowing read about this dead woman who woke up right before they harvested her organs. Of course, no paragraph about miraculous survival would be complete without the man who punched out a leopard from the inside.