Missing Benton County woman, baby found dead in southwest Missouri
BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Officials in Arkansas said Thursday that a missing pregnant woman from Benton County, as well as her unborn child, were found dead in Missouri.
Two people have been arrested in connection with the case, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office confirmed. Amber Waterman, 42, was charged with kidnapping resulting in death and her husband, Jamie Waterman, 42, was charged with being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping resulting in death. Both suspects were charged in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri in Springfield.
Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway previously said the victim, identified as 33-year-old Ashley Bush, was first reported missing on Monday.
Bush’s fiancé, Josh Willis, said he last saw Bush in Maysville, Arkansas, with a woman who went by the name “Lucy.” Willis said he and Bush originally met Lucy last Friday at a library, where Bush was applying for a job. Willis said he dropped Bush off at a gas station Monday morning to get a ride with Lucy for Bush’s second interview. At the time she was supposed to return later that afternoon, Willis said he saw Lucy and Bush drive past the gas station in a tan pickup truck.
He tried to follow the car but ultimately could not keep up, he said.
At a press conference on Thursday, Sheriff Holloway said Bush’s body was found in McDonald County, Missouri, that day. The sheriff said Bush’s unborn baby was also found in a separate location in McDonald County on Wednesday.
According to Benton County prosecutor Nathan Smith, Ashley Bush died from an apparent gunshot wound.
“This is just a reminder that there is evil in the world, people do evil things and that someone would prey upon a pregnant woman at her most vulnerable state is unimaginable,” Smith said.
Amber Waterman, who was charged on Friday, is accused of abducting Bush, 33, and transporting her across state lines “for the purpose and benefit of claiming Ashley Bush’s child as the defendant’s child,” according to court documents.
The documents say Amber Waterman initially told investigators that she hadn’t left Missouri on the day that Bush went missing, claiming instead that she, herself, had “delivered a stillborn child that evening.”
Jamie Waterman, her husband, told investigators that his wife called him that afternoon to inform him that she was having a miscarriage. He also told investigators he assumed that the blood discovered inside the tan pickup truck came from his wife’s “pregnancy complications.” It was only later, he claimed, that his wife told him she had killed Bush and led him to the body.
Court documents say the two then burned the body and transported it to another location. He later led investigators to that spot, where a “charred human body” was found, the documents indicate.
Both Amber Waterman and Jamie Waterman were being held in federal custody pending detention hearings which have not yet been scheduled. They will be extradited to Arkansas and may face additional charges.
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