Kidnapped Missouri Baby Found Alive

Seven-day old Abigale Lynn Woods was stolen after a woman slashed Abigaile's mother's throat and fled with the Lonedell, Mo., infant. AP/Franklin County Sheriff

Authorities say a baby girl abducted last Friday from her small town Missouri home was found alive Tuesday in excellent condition, and a woman who had recently miscarried is under arrest - accused of slashing the throat of the baby's mother, and then stealing the child.

Dr. Peter McCarthy, an emergency room physician at St. John's Hospital in Washington, Mo., says 11-day-old Abigale Lynn Woods has been reunited with her mother, father and other relatives.

"The family is elated and thankful to everyone in the community who prayed for them,' McCarthy said. "The baby was hydrated, nourished and in good condition when she arrived at the hospital."

FBI agent Roland Corvington identified the suspect as Shannon Beck, who lives a few miles from the Lonedell, Mo., home of the mother and baby. The exact charges she will face have yet to be announced.

The case broke when Beck's sister-in-law, Dorothy Torrez, contacted authorities.

"She's the hero," Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said. "She's the one that made it happen."

On Sunday, Beck contacted Torrez to say she had given birth, Corvington said. Beck had been pregnant but apparently miscarried shortly before her own child was to be born.

Torrez visited Beck on Monday and urged her to take the child to a doctor, the FBI agent said. Beck agreed, and Torrez accompanied her to St. Louis on Tuesday, about 45 miles away.

Torrez noticed what appeared to be makeup on the baby's forehead, Corvington said. When she rubbed the forehead, makeup came off what was covering a small birthmark.

In publicizing the abduction, police had described Abby's strawberry-red birthmark. Her suspicions aroused, Torrez confronted Beck, who gave her the baby, Corvington said.

Torrez contacted police, and the baby was handed over to authorities around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"An outstanding ending, obviously," Toelke said.

Toelke said the county prosecutor would address criminal charges on Wednesday. It wasn't immediately clear where Shannon Beck was or whether she had a lawyer.

The family has declined to speak with the media.

The child's mother, 21-year-old Stephenie Ochsenbine, told police Friday a woman entered her rural home, attacked her with a knife and stole the baby, who was a week old at the time.

Police had received more than 500 leads in the investigation. On Tuesday, they gave the baby's father, James Woods, a polygraph test, which he passed.

The abductor had been profiled as someone who had a child die recently or as someone who could not have children, told people she was pregnant and needed to steal a child so her lie would not be found out.
  • Amy Clark

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