Search goes on for missing infant - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/18/06

Search goes on for missing infant

CNN) -- The search continued Monday for the baby allegedly kidnapped from her rural Missouri home Friday by a woman who slashed the mother's throat before taking the child, investigators said.

A statewide Amber Alert has been issued for 10-day-old Abigale Lynn Woods.

The baby's mother, Stephanie Ochsenbine, 21, who is recovering from her wounds, told police the woman knocked on her door Friday, asking to use the phone, then attacked her.

Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said evidence at the scene supports the mother's story about the woman.

"She asked to use the phone, and she came in and attempted to make a call. But apparently their long distance service wasn't working, and I think she asked to use the bathroom," Toelke said. "At one point, she told [Ochsenbine] she was there to take the child, and that's when there was an altercation inside the house."

The Amber Alert says the suspect was armed with an "unknown [type of] handgun and fillet knife."

Investigators said they found a knife near the family's home, but there was no word Monday on what forensic examination of the knife had revealed.

Ochsenbine was briefly unconscious after the attack. When she woke up, she walked 300 yards to a neighbor's home, a feat Toelke called "quite extraordinary" considering her wounds.

Neighbor Pat Bearden said the bleeding Ochsenbine told her, "Someone stole my baby."

Ochsenbine was released from the hospital over the weekend and was being cared for by her family on Monday.

Ochsenbine also has a 1-year-old son who was in the house at the time. He was not harmed.

The infant's father, James Woods, was at work when the intruder took Abigale, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Police spoke to Ochsenbine on Friday before a helicopter flew her to a hospital, Toelke said.

Police suspect the culprit may have lost a child recently or may not be able to have children, Toelke said.

"They're taking a child to fulfill the vacancy," he said. "They'll go out and take a child to maybe satisfy their spouse, something along those lines.

"Sometimes people will actually tell people that they're pregnant and around the time that they're due to have the child will go out to steal a child just to show that they weren't lying," he said. "They may say, 'Well, we adopted the child.' "

There are few leads in the case because Ochsenbine did not see any vehicles in the driveway or on the gravel road leading up to the home in Lonedell, the sheriff said. Lonedell is about 45 miles southwest of St. Louis, Missouri.

The Amber Alert describes the suspect as a white woman between 30 and 40 years old. She is said to be about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds. Her dark or black hair was pulled under a baseball cap with a worn bill, authorities said. She was wearing a gray or brown T-shirt and blue jean shorts.

She also was wearing sunglasses and a black scarf around her neck, and had a female mustache, according to the alert.

The woman may have been cut on the leg in the struggle with the mother, Toelke said.

The infant, who goes by Abby, weighs almost 6 pounds, has black hair and blue eyes, and was wearing a pink dress with a flowered collar when she was taken, the alert said. Abby has a strawberry birthmark between her eyes.

Abby's grandmother issued a plea to the kidnappers, saying: "We don't have no issues with you. We just want her back."

"It's all [Stephanie] ever wanted is to have boy and girl," the grandmother said. "She just loves them. She wants them back. It's just that simple."

The FBI was helping in the investigation, and the Missouri National Guard joined the search Saturday, Toelke said.

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