Missing pregnant mother and baby from Arkansas found dead in Missouri after couple allegedly kidnapped her
A Benton County, Arkansas woman last seen Monday and the baby she was pregnant with are dead in McDonald, Missouri, and the couple is facing charges in connection with the case.
U press conference Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway said Thursday that Amber and Jamie Waterman, who are married, were taken into custody in McDonald, Missouri, and are being held. charges of first-degree kidnapping with new allegations related to the death of Ashley Bush and the child she was pregnant with.
“This was one of the most horrific cases I have personally been involved in,” Holloway said.
According to Benton County District Attorney Nathan Smith, who also spoke at the news conference, it is not yet known whether Bush was killed in Arkansas or Missouri. He added that there are more places in the case. According to jail records and a statement released by the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri, the FBI was involved in Thursday’s arrest of the Watermans.
Smith said the suspects will most likely face federal charges.
“Law enforcement has reason to believe that both of them were involved in this crime and obviously as the facts unfold and the investigation continues, we will know the extent of that involvement for both of them. But the evidence is, at this point, that there was a reason to hold both of them on charges,” he said.
In a statement released on TuesdayBenton County police said Bush, who was 31 weeks pregnant, was last seen in the passenger seat of an older model tan pickup truck in Maysville, Arkansas.
“The driver was a white woman in her 40s with shoulder length brown hair who said her name was ‘Lucy’. Ashley met Lucy online when she was looking for a job working from home. Lucy picked her up that morning at the Handi-Mart in Maysville to take her to a job interview in Bentonville,” the statement said.
Investigators believe “Lucy” was Amber Waterman.
Police say Bush was found dead in a different location than the daughter she was pregnant with on Monday.
McDonald County Sheriff Rob Evenson told CNN in an email that the baby had been dead since late Monday afternoon.
“We called 911 that this woman had given birth and the baby had stopped breathing,” he said. “Two of my deputies as well as EMS and EMS performed CPR in an attempt to save the baby but were unsuccessful.”
McDonald County Coroner William Goodwin told CNN by phone that the baby’s cause of death has not been determined and that an autopsy is being performed in Little Rock.
“The baby was cut out of the mother after the mother was killed,” he said. “I don’t know if the baby came out alive or dead.”
According to Goodwin, he was contacted after the Watermans claimed that Amber Waterman was a week past her due date and had contractions in the morning. They told officials they didn’t have enough time to get to the hospital and called 911, claiming they had given birth in their vehicle.
Goodwin said the woman refused medical attention and would not drive an ambulance to the hospital and wanted to leave with the baby.
“I wouldn’t let them take the baby. I’m taking custody of the baby as the county coroner,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the Watermans told officials they were going to the hospital themselves but didn’t have enough money for gas to get there, so officials gave them gas money and told them to contact Ozark Funeral Home, which Goodwin owns, after leave the hospital. Goodwin said they were behind the ambulance, but they took another road and no one knew if they ever made it to the hospital.
According to Goodwin, the Watermans arrived at Ozark Funeral Home on Tuesday to make funeral arrangements for the baby with Goodwin.
“They come here and they’re willing to make arrangements and do the service and cremate the baby afterwards,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the service is scheduled for Wednesday and will include the couple in addition to 6 or 8 family members.
Shortly after the appointment, Goodwin received a phone call from the Benton County Coroner who expressed doubt about the baby’s identity.
“The Benton County Coroner calls me and says, ‘Hey, something’s going on with this baby. We think this is related to the kidnapping,’ Goodwin said.
Goodwin was told the descriptions of the vehicles matched and that Benton County wanted to perform an autopsy on the baby. Goodwin agreed, but insisted that the funeral take place first in case there was a mistake.
“When they get here on Wednesday, we do a service with their family – they were all very upset – which is normal after a parent goes through something so traumatic,” he said.
When Goodwin explained to Amber Waterman that the Benton County Coroner would perform an autopsy on the baby, he said her demeanor changed and she asked if DNA tests would be done.
Goodwin is awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine if the baby inhaled before dying.
According to the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office statement released Thursday with a Benton County Sheriff’s press conference, McDonald County officials in cooperation with the FBI and the Benton County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant on Laughlin Ridge Road in Missouri in connection with a “missing person/kidnapping investigation that began earlier this week .”
“During the service of the warrant, human remains were found that are believed to be related to this investigation. “Two people were taken into custody and are being held in the McDonald County Jail pending formal charges,” the statement said.
According to Holloway, police believe Bush died of a gunshot wound.
“This is just a reminder that there is evil in the world. People do evil things and it’s unthinkable that someone would attack a pregnant woman, you know, in her most vulnerable state,” Smith said.
Sheriff Holloway said they are working with the FBI as well as the McDonald County, Missouri Sheriff’s Office and it is a “very active investigation.”
It is unclear whether Amber and Jamie Waterman have lawyers.
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