Pregnant woman and her child found dead after apparent abduction in Arkansas

(CNN) — A pregnant woman from Benton County, Arkansas, and the baby she was carrying were found dead in a McDonald’s in Missouri. A couple is now being charged in connection with this case.

At a news conference Thursday, Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway said husbands Amber and Jamie Waterman were being held at McDonald’s on kidnapping charges and will face additional charges in connection with the deaths of Ashley Bush and the baby they were expecting.

“This is one of the most horrific cases I’ve ever been involved with,” Holloway said.

For his part, the Benton County Prosecutor, Nathan Smith, explained at the press conference that it is not yet known whether Bush was killed in Arkansas or Missouri. The official added that there are multiple scenes in the case. According to jail records and a statement from the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI was involved in Thursday’s arrest of the Watermans.

Smith said the suspects will most likely face federal charges.

“The authorities have reason to believe that both of them were involved in this crime. And obviously, as the facts develop and the investigation continues, we will know the extent of that involvement of each of them. But the evidence, at this point, is that there was a reason to hold them “, He said.

Pregnant woman found dead after alleged kidnapping

Ashley Bush. (Credit: Benton County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook)

In a statement Tuesday, Benton County police said Bush, 31 weeks pregnant, was last seen in the passenger seat of an old station wagon 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 work from home jobs. Lucy picked her up that morning at the Handi-Mart in Maysville to take her to a job interview in Bentonville,” the statement read.

Investigators believe “Lucy” is actually Amber Waterman.

Police say Bush was found dead Monday in a different location than the child she was expecting.

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

“We received an emergency call that this woman had given birth and the baby had stopped breathing,” he said. “Two of my assistants, as well as an EMS worker and an ambulance, did CPR to try and save the baby, but they were unsuccessful.”

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

“The baby was taken from 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 said Amber Waterman was a week overdue and in morning labor. They told officers they didn’t have enough time to get to the hospital and called 911, saying they had given birth in their vehicle.

Goodwin said the woman refused medical attention and wouldn’t let an ambulance take her to the hospital, wanting to leave with the baby.

“I didn’t let them take the child. I took custody of the baby as the county coroner,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said the Watermans told officers they were going to the hospital alone but didn’t have enough money for gas to get there, so officers gave them gas money and told them to call Ozark Funeral Home, owned by Goodwin, after they they were discharged from the hospital. Goodwin said they looked for an ambulance, but they turned down 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.

“They came here and were ready to make arrangements and do the service and then cremate the baby,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said the service is scheduled for Wednesday and will include the couple as well as 6 or 8 family members.

Shortly after the arrangement, Goodwin received a phone call from the Benton County Coroner who expressed doubt about the baby’s identity.

“The Benton County Coroner called me and said, ‘Hey, there’s something wrong with this baby. We believe this is related to the kidnapping,’ Goodwin said.

Goodwin was told that the descriptions of the abduction vehicle matched and that Benton County wanted to perform an autopsy on the baby. Goodwin agreed, but insisted that a funeral be held first in case there was a mistake.

“When they got here on Wednesday, we did a service with their family, they were all very distraught, which is normal after parents go through something so traumatic,” he said.

When Goodwin explained to Amber Waterman that the Benton County Coroner would perform an autopsy on the baby, she said their demeanor changed and asked if they would be DNA tested.

Goodwin is awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine if the baby was breathing before she died.

According to a McDonald County Sheriff’s Office statement released Thursday, McDonald County deputies along 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 in the week. “

“During the search, remains were found that are believed to be related to this investigation. “Two people are in custody and are being held at the McDonald County Jail pending formal charges,” the statement said.

According to Holloway, police believe Bush was shot and killed.

“This is just a reminder that there is evil in the world. People do bad things and it’s unthinkable that someone would take advantage of a pregnant woman, you know, in her most vulnerable state,” Smith said.

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

It is not clear whether Amber and Jamie Waterman have lawyers.

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