September 17, 2006 in Nation/World

Mother attacked with knife, newborn daughter stolen

Jim Salter Associated Press
 

UNION, Mo. – Raylene Ochsenbine spoke softly as she described her granddaughter, Abby Woods.

“Light as a feather,” Ochsenbine said, recalling the 1-week-old’s dark brown hair, her dark eyes, and the strawberry-red birthmark on her forehead.

“She’s just a beautiful, healthy girl,” Ochsenbine said Saturday.

A day earlier, a woman walked into the home, told 21-year-old Stephanie Ochsenbine, “I’m here to take your child,” then slashed the mother’s throat and left with the baby.

Stephanie Ochsenbine was in stable condition Saturday after surgery. Raylene Ochsenbine said Stephanie was doing better physically but was distraught beyond words.

“She’s torn apart,” Raylene Ochsenbine said at a news conference at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, pleading for the baby’s return.

County deputies, FBI agents and several members of the Missouri National Guard searched Stephanie Ochsenbine’s small frame home off a rural highway near the town of Lonedell, along with the yard and the woods surrounding the home.

Sheriff Gary Toelke said authorities found some evidence on the property but declined to elaborate.

Stephanie Ochsenbine told police she did not know her attacker, described as a white woman with black hair, 5 feet 8 and 200 pounds. She was wearing a gray or brown T-shirt and a baseball cap with a torn bill. She is believed to be armed with a knife and handgun.

Toelke said authorities were asking hospitals and other health care providers to watch for anyone bringing in a newborn. The abductor, he said, “could be someone who had a child die recently or could not have children and has told people they were pregnant and needed to steal a child so their lie would not be found out.”

Franklin County Maj. Mike Copeland noted that a sign celebrating Abby’s birth was displayed in the front yard and was plainly visible from a highway. She was born Sept. 8.

The attacker gained entry by asking to use Stephanie Ochsenbine’s telephone, authorities said. Ochsenbine’s boyfriend and Abby’s father, James Woods, was at work at the time, police said.

Ochsenbine tried to fight off the abductor and was stabbed several times, police said. Her throat was slashed. Toelke said the attacker may have been stabbed in the leg.

Ochsenbine’s 1-year-old son, Connor, also was in the house but was unharmed.

Ochsenbine passed out, and police aren’t sure how long she was unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she picked up Connor and went for help, trying two houses where no one was home before arriving at Pat Bearden’s home. “She was standing there with blood all over her and said, ‘Somebody stole my baby,’ ” said Bearden.

© Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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