The FBI recovered 16-month-old Jasmine Anderson from a home in Williamson, W.Va., Thursday evening, ending a nationwide search.
Marcella Anderson, 21, flew to Charleston, W.Va., aboard a small FBI jet to reclaim her daughter and then immediately flew back to Chicago.
"The past few days have been real terrible and I'd never want to put anyone through it or put myself through it again," Anderson told a news conference at Midway Airport.
Anderson said Jasmine apparently was well-cared-for during the ordeal.
"They took her earrings out and I didn't get any of her clothes back, but that's OK," Anderson said. "She was taken care of. It looks like she ate pretty well."
Anderson said she was reunited with her daughter in a small room at the Charleston airport.
"The mayor was there and the police who recovered her and the lady from Social Services. They were so nice to me. I'm grateful to everyone who helped," Anderson said, adding that Jasmine was asleep when she arrived.
Anderson said holding her baby in her arms again was "the most wonderful feeling in the world."
"I was just overwhelmed with joy when I got my baby back. She was sleeping when I got there. I had to wake her up. She gave me a big old hug."
Asked what Jasmine's first words were when she realized her mom was there, Anderson said Jasmine, who is just learning to talk, said, "Da Da."
Anderson, Jasmine, and Jasmine's sister, Alesia, 3, were en route home to Milwaukee from St. Louis when Jasmine vanished. Anderson said she was struggling to cope with her daughters at the Greyhound station when a blond-haired woman approached her and offered help. The woman said she would give the family a ride back to Milwaukee and hold Jasmine while Anderson cashed in her bus ticket. Anderson said as she waited in line, the woman disappeared.
Sheila Matthews, 35, has been charged with kidnapping. She appeared before a U.S. magistrate in Charleston earlier Friday. A bond hearing was scheduled for Thursday. A judge will decide at that time whether Matthews will be sent back to Chicago to face the charges.
Police said Matthews served a previous jail term for kidnapping a 2 1/2-year-old Seattle girl more than a decade ago.
Police said Matthews went to the bus station with the express purpose of abducting a child. Police said she had told her boyfriend she had had his baby while he was in prison and that they would be reunited with the child, who supposedly was with Matthews' mother, for Christmas.
Police said they believe Matthews acted alone and no charges were expected against the boyfriend.
The case broke Thursday after Matthews, her boyfriend and Jasmine had headed for West Virginia. The boyfriend's family became suspicious after seeing news reports about Jasmine's abduction and realized that the baby Matthews had brought to their home looked like the kidnapped child.
The boyfriend's mother, who had given Matthews a ride to the Greyhound station Christmas Eve, said she saw Matthews run out of the terminal about 20 minutes after she arrived, carrying the child. Matthews allegedly claimed she was being chased by an ex-husband.
Anderson said she is grateful to the boyfriend's mother, who contacted police in suburban Broadview.
Toward the end of the news conference, Jasmine began to fuss and cry as her grandmother, Wilma Anderson, and uncle, Tom Anderson, tried to put her back into her coat. She quieted immediately when Tom Anderson handed the baby back to his sister.