A Benton County, Arkansas woman last seen on Monday and the baby she was pregnant with both died in McDonald’s, Missouri, and a couple face charges in connection with the case .
In a press conference On Thursday, Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway said Amber and Jamie Waterman, who are married, are being held in McDonald, Missouri, and are being held on first degree kidnapping charges with other charges to come in connection with 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 press conference, it is not known at this time whether Bush was killed in Arkansas or Missouri. He added that there were several 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 the Watermans’ arrest on Thursday.
Smith said federal charges will most likely be applied to the suspects.
“Law enforcement has reason to believe they are both involved in this crime and obviously as the facts unfold and the investigation continues we will know the full extent. of that involvement for both. But the evidence is, at this point, that there was reason to hold them both for 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 beige 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 while looking for a work-from-home job. Lucy came over picked up that morning at the Handi-Mart in Maysville to take him to a job interview in Bentonville,” the statement read.
Investigators believe “Lucy” was Amber Waterman.
Police said Bush was found dead in a different location from the girl she was pregnant with on Monday.
McDonald County Sheriff Rob Evenson told CNN in an email that the baby had been dead since Monday afternoon.
“We received a 911 call indicating that this woman had given birth and the baby had stopped breathing,” he said. “Two of my deputies along with EMS and first responders performed CPR trying to save the baby but were unsuccessful.”
McDonald County Coroner William Goodwin told CNN by phone that the cause of the baby’s death has not been determined and an autopsy is underway in Little Rock.
“The baby was cut off 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 claimed that Amber Waterman was a week past her due date and was having morning contractions. They told authorities they did not have enough time to get to the hospital and called the emergency dispatch claiming to have given birth in their vehicle.
Goodwin said the woman refused medical treatment and would not have taken the ambulance to the hospital and wanted to leave with the baby.
“I wouldn’t let them take the baby. I take custody of the baby as county coroner,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the Watermans told officials they would go to the hospital alone, but did not have enough money to get there. hospital. Goodwin said they were behind the ambulance but took another route and no one knew if they ever got to the hospital.
According to Goodwin, the Watermans arrived at the Ozark Funeral Home on Tuesday to arrange the funeral with Goodwin for the baby.
“They come here and are ready to make arrangements and have a service and cremate the baby afterwards,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the service was scheduled for Wednesday and would 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 expressing suspicion about the baby’s identity.
“The Benton County coroner calls me and says, ‘Hey, something’s going on with this baby. We think it’s related to the kidnapping,'” Goodwin said.
Goodwin learned that the vehicle descriptions matched and that Benton County wanted to perform an autopsy on the baby. Goodwin agreed but insisted on the funeral first in case there was a mistake.
“When they arrive here on Wednesday we are doing the service with their family – everyone was very upset – which is normal after parents going through something so traumatic,” he said.
When Goodwin explained to Amber Waterman that the Benton County coroner would do an autopsy on the baby, he said her behavior had changed and she asked if DNA testing would be done.
Goodwin is awaiting autopsy results that will determine if the baby breathed before he died.
According to the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office statement released Thursday alongside the Benton County Sheriff’s press conference, McDonald County officers, in conjunction with the FBI and the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, served a search warrant on Laughlin Ridge Road in the Missouri in connection with a “missing person/kidnapping investigation that began earlier in the week.”
“During the service of the warrant, human remains were discovered which are believed to be related to this investigation. Two people have been arrested and are being held in the McDonald County Jail pending formal charges,” the statement said.
According to Holloway, police believe Bush was shot dead.
“It’s just a reminder that there is evil in the world. People do evil things, and someone preys on a pregnant woman, you know, in her most vulnerable state, it’s unimaginable,” Smith said.
Sheriff Holloway said they were working with the FBI as well as the McDonald County, Missouri Sheriff’s Office and it was “a very active investigation”.
It is not known if Amber and Jamie Waterman have attorneys.