An Arkansas pregnant mother and baby are missing in Missouri after the couple was allegedly kidnapped



CNN

A Benton County, Arkansas woman and her unborn child, who were last seen Monday, are both dead in McDonald, Missouri, and a couple has been linked to the case.

At a news conference Thursday, Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway said Amber and Jamie Waterman, who are married, are being held in McDonald, Missouri and charged with first-degree kidnapping, with additional charges related to the deceased’s death. Ashley Bush and the child she was pregnant with.

“This was one of the most harrowing cases I have personally been involved with,” Holloway said.

According to Benton County District Attorney Nathan Smith, who also spoke at the press conference, it is not known at this time whether Bush was killed in Arkansas or Missouri. He added that there are multiple locations 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 arresting the Watermans on Thursday.

Smith said federal charges will likely apply to the suspects.

“Law enforcement has reason to believe that both of them are involved in this crime and obviously as events unfold and the investigation continues, we will learn the extent of their involvement. But there is enough evidence at this time to hold both of them on charges. He was right,” he said.

In a statement released Tuesday, Benton County police said Bush, who was 31 weeks pregnant, was last seen in the passenger seat of an older model pickup truck in Maysville, Arkansas.

“The driver was a 40-year-old white woman with shoulder-length brown hair who gave her name as ‘Lucy.’ to carry,” says the note.

Investigators believe “Lucy” was Amber Waterman.

Police said Bush was found dead Monday at a location other than her pregnant daughter’s.

McDonald County Sheriff Rob Evenson told CNN in an email that the baby was dead as of Monday afternoon.

“We had a 911 call that this woman went into labor and the baby stopped breathing,” he said. “My two deputies, as well as EMS and first responders performed CPR in an attempt to save the baby, but were unsuccessful.”

McDonald County Coroner William Goodwin told CNN by phone that the child’s cause of death has not been determined and an autopsy is being performed in Little Rock.

“The child was taken away from the mother after the death of the mother,” he said. “I don’t know if the baby came out alive or dead.”

According to Goodwin, the Watermans contacted Amber Waterman after she was a week past her due date and had morning contractions. They told officials they didn’t have enough time to get to the hospital and called emergency dispatch to say they had given birth in their vehicle.

Goodwin said the woman refused medical treatment and would not take an ambulance to the hospital and wanted to go with the baby.

“I wouldn’t let them take the baby. I’m taking custody of the child as a county judge,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said the Watermans told officials they were going to the hospital on their own but didn’t have enough gas money to get there, so officials gave them gas money and told them to contact Ozark Funeral Home, which Goodwin owns. the hospital Goodwin said they were behind the ambulance, but they went off on another road and no one knew if they made it to the hospital.

According to Goodwin, the Watermans arrived at Ozark Funeral Home on Tuesday to go over the baby’s funeral arrangements with Goodwin.

“They come in here and they’re ready to make arrangements and have a service and then cremate the baby,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said the service was set for Wednesday and would include the couple in addition to 6 or 8 family members.

After the appointment, Goodwin received a phone call from the Benton County Coroner, expressing suspicions about the child’s identity.

“The Benton County Coroner calls me and says, ‘Hey, something’s going on with this kid. 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 child. Goodwin agreed, but insisted that if there was a mistake, the funerals would take place as soon as possible.

“When they get here on Wednesday, we do the service with the family – they were all very distressed – which is normal after such a traumatic parent,” he said.

When Goodwin explained to Amber Waterman that the Benton County Coroner would be performing an autopsy on the child, she said her demeanor changed and she asked if DNA testing would be done.

Goodwin is awaiting the results of an autopsy, which will determine if the baby was suffocated before she died.

According to a statement released by the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office along with the Benton County Sheriff’s press conference on Thursday, McDonald County agents, along with the FBI and the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, served a search warrant on Laughlin Ridge Road in Missouri for a “missing person/ related to a kidnapping”. the investigation that started at the beginning of the week.”

“During the service of the warrant, human remains were found that are believed to be related to this investigation. Two people were arrested and are being held in the McDonald County Jail pending the filing of 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 mean things, and for someone to prey on a pregnant woman, you know, in her most vulnerable state is unimaginable,” Smith said.

Sheriff Holloway said they are working with the FBI and the McDonald County Missouri Sheriff’s Office and it is a “very active investigation.”

It is unclear whether Amber and Jamie Waterman have an attorney.