In-Law Turns In Alleged Baby Snatcher

Abby Woods with her parents Stephanie Ochsenbine and James Wooods, Sept. 20, 2006.
CBS/EARLY SHOW
"It's just unbelievable," mother Stephenie Ochsenbine said Wednesday on CBS News' The Early Show, hours after her 11-day-old infant, Abigale Lynn Woods, was reunited with her parents.

The baby is healthy and so is the mother.

"I'm great now, definitely great now," Ochsenbine said.

Dorothy Torrez became suspicious when she noticed makeup on the forehead of the newborn baby her sister-in-law was claiming to have delivered a few days earlier.

She rubbed the makeup off and found a strawberry-red birthmark that matched the description provided by investigators who had been combing the Franklin County countryside for a baby abducted on Friday.

Torrez contacted police, and hours later a healthy 11-day-old Abigale Lynn Woods was reunited with her parents and the sister-in-law, Shannon Beck, was in custody.

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

Toelke said charges would likely be filed against Beck on Wednesday morning, though he was not sure what those charges would be.

"We'll leave that up to the prosecuting attorney. More than likely, kidnapping, first degree assault and first degree burglary," he said on CBS News' The Early Show.

"My chief deputy called and told me he needed me to call immediately. I just knew this was something bad," Toelke told co-anchor Julie Chen. "When he spoke with me, he said the baby had been found dead. That was a horrible thing to hear, but just within a few seconds, he said, 'Wait a minute, no, the baby is OK.'

"You talk about an emotional swing, that was quite a situation to be in."

Ochsenbine, 21, 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.

That's the same day that officials believe Beck's own full-term pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.

During the search for Abby, investigators had profiled the abductor as someone who had a child die recently or as someone who could not have children. They also said the abductor had likely told people she was pregnant and needed to steal a child so her lie would not be revealed.

Beck lives just a few miles from Ochsenbine's home near Lonedell, FBI Special Agent Roland Corvington said.

Beck told Torrez on Sunday that she had given birth, the FBI agent said. Visiting Beck the next day, Torrez persuaded her sister-in-law to take the baby to see a doctor, and on Tuesday Torrez went with Beck to St. Louis for that doctor's visit.

That's when she discovered the birthmark and confronted Beck, who gave her the baby. Abby was handed over to authorities at about 5 p.m.

"I didn't think they'd find her alive," Beck's neighbor, Terry Lacy, told John Mills of CBS station KMOV-TV. "When the policeman went to the car he immediately retrieved the baby, walked away from the car. He held the baby in a blanket, it looked wonderful."

"An outstanding ending, obviously," Toelke said. "You talk about a lead breaking the case, and this was it."

Health care officials said it appears Abby had been well cared for since she was taken.

Dr. Peter McCarthy, an emergency room physician at St. John's Hospital in Washington, Mo., said the baby was expected to be released from the hospital later Tuesday.

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

Police had received more than 500 leads in an investigation that drew international attention. Their search intensified Tuesday afternoon as a helicopter circled the area above Abby's home, sometimes as low as 50 feet above the ground. Missouri Route 47, which runs by the home, was blocked off as search dogs scoured the yard and divers searched two nearby ponds.

Ochsenbine told police she did not know the woman who came to her door Friday and entered the house after asking to use the telephone.

"I have no clue who she is," she told Chen.

Ochsenbine's throat was slashed before the baby was taken. She was treated at an area hospital for the wound.

Experts in child abductions say kidnappings by strangers are extremely rare.

"We are not sure 'Shannon Beck' is her correct name. We are trying to determine that now. And we don't know as far as the husband's involvement," Toelke said. "Hopefully they will be finding out more today. We still have a lot of work to do on the case."