Feds charge 2 in McDonald County kidnapping, murder of pregnant mother and baby
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Edited News Release/KY3) – Federal prosecutors have charged a McDonald County couple in the kidnapping and death of a missing pregnant woman and her baby in northwest Arkansas.
Amber Waterman, 42, and her husband, Jamie Waterman, 42, were charged in separate criminal complaints signed Thursday, Nov. 3, and filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield. The Watermans remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
Amber Waterman is charged with one count of kidnapping resulting in death. A federal criminal complaint alleges that between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, Amber Waterman kidnapped Ashley Bush, who was approximately 31 weeks pregnant, in order to claim her unborn child as her own. She allegedly drove Ashley Bush from Maysville, Arkansas, to Pineville, resulting in her death.
Jamie Waterman is charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact to a kidnapping resulting in death. The federal criminal complaint alleges that he aided and abetted Amber Waterman to hinder and prevent her apprehension, trial and punishment, knowing she had committed the crime of kidnapping, resulting in death.
According to an affidavit filed in support of federal criminal charges, Amber Waterman adopted the fake online persona “Lucy” to meet Ashley Bush and then lured her to meet up a second time to drive her to an alleged job interview. Instead, the affidavit says Amber Waterman killed Ashley Bush.
Amber Waterman allegedly led Jamie Waterman to Ashley Bush’s body, which was clothed and lying face down next to a boat near their home, covered in a blue tarp. Amber Waterman removed the ring from Ashley Bush’s finger and rolled her body onto a blue tarp, the affidavit says, which Jamie Waterman then dragged to a fire behind the house. The Watermans allegedly burned the body, moved it to the bed of Jamie Waterman’s blue GMC pickup and drove a short distance from their home to hide the body.
Ashley Bush was reported missing on Monday, October 31st. Her fiance told police he saw her being driven as a passenger in a pickup truck by a woman he knew as “Lucy.” They had originally met “Lucy” at the Gravette, Ark., public library a few days earlier, at which time “Lucy” was driving the same pickup truck. During this meeting at the library, “Lucy” and Ashley Bush discussed employment opportunities, and later that day, “Lucy” offered to drive her to meet with her supervisor at the company in Bentonville, Ark.
On Oct. 31, Ashley Bush’s fiance drove her to meet “Lucy” at a Handi-Stop store in Maysville, Ark. He later received a text to pick her up at the same Handi-Stop store, but as he waited for her to arrive, he saw “Lucy” and Ashley Bush drive past without stopping. He tried to contact Ashley Bush by phone, but his calls went to voicemail. He later found her phone on the side of the highway.
Detectives with the Benton County Sheriff’s Department, Ark., went through the phone and found a Facebook account for “Lucy.” Detectives found a public post on the account that read: “I have a bunch of baby stuff if a mom-to-be needs it.” Detectives traced the Facebook account to Jamie Waterman and learned from a review of Amber Bush’s Google records that she traveled to Pineville, approximately .25 miles from the Watermans’ residence.
When investigators questioned the Watermans on Tuesday, Nov. 1, they were initially told that Amber had had a miscarriage. Detectives noticed what appeared to be blood stains on the interior of the pickup that matched the description of the vehicle provided by fiancé Ashley Bush. The vehicle was seized by law enforcement, and search warrants were issued on Thursday, November 3, for the vehicle and residence.
Detectives questioned Jamie Waterman again on Thursday, November 3. According to the affidavit, he told detectives that after they questioned them and left their residence, Amber Waterman said she killed Ashley Bush, then quickly changed her story to say “Lucy” killed her. She then led him to the body, which he helped dispose of.
The allegations contained in these complaints are allegations only and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal jury, whose duty it is to determine guilt or innocence.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys Stephanie L. Wan and James J. Kelleher. They were investigated by the FBI, Benton County, Arkansas, Sheriff’s Department, and the McDonald County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department in cooperation with the Western District of Arkansas State’s Attorney’s Office and the Benton County, Ark., District Attorney’s Office. Office.
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