Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, August 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 69° Partly Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Police say woman used complex ruse to kidnap baby in Spokane

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 21, 2017, 6:40 a.m.

Fern Littlecalf, in court Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, had bail set at $50,000. She’s charged with three counts of second-degree kidnapping. (Jonathan Glover / The Spokesman-Review)
Fern Littlecalf, in court Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, had bail set at $50,000. She’s charged with three counts of second-degree kidnapping. (Jonathan Glover / The Spokesman-Review)

Fern T. Littlecalf, jailed on three counts of second-degree kidnapping, had what police describe as an extensive network of fake names and aliases, all working together for one goal: to kidnap a 6-month-old child from his mother.

To complete her ruse, the 34-year-old coaxed a woman from the Tri-Cities to travel to Spokane to meet her “boyfriend” – a man who Spokane police indicate may not even exist. Unknowingly a pawn in her plan was a man from Kennewick who elected to drive the unsuspecting mother and her three kids, thinking he was reuniting a family at a local hospital following a tragic vehicle collision.

The man also thought he was going to meet a woman named “Maya” whom he had recently met on a dating website. He wouldn’t meet Maya. But he would meet Littlecalf, according to police.

Littlecalf’s scheme, detailed in 13 sprawling pages of a police affidavit, began Thursday with a Facebook message from “Kim King,” the alleged mother of “Kanoa King” – the kidnapping victim’s boyfriend, or so she thought.

According to police, the Tri-Cities woman believed she was in a dating relationship with Kanoa, though she had never met him in person. She had also never met the online boyfriend’s mother, “Kim,” or a brother, “Kalin,” who all had contact with the woman on Facebook.

The message from Kim sent that afternoon told the woman she was sending Kanoa’s cousin to pick her up at her home in Kennewick and drive her to Spokane to see her son in the hospital. Her cousin was in fact not Kanoa’s cousin – it was the man who thought he was going to Spokane to meet and have dinner with Maya.

The driver, along with the mother and her three children, left Kennewick at about 4:40 p.m. and arrived in Spokane at about 7 p.m. He dropped the mother off at Providence Holy Family Hospital, police say, but the woman was told Kanoa was not a patient there. So he picked her back up about an hour and a half later with Littlecalf in the car and took them all to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

The woman told police she believed Littlecalf was related to Kanoa based on a previous run-in she had had with the 34-year-old in October. She told officers Littlecalf brought her to Spokane to meet with Kanoa, but she didn’t get to see him because he “got a flat tire while he was driving from Coeur d’Alene to meet her,” police wrote in court documents.

She told police there was a period of several hours during that time where Littlecalf left with her 6-month-old, but the child was returned when the mother called Crime Check.

On Thursday, upon arriving at Sacred Heart, Littlecalf and the woman went inside with the 6-month-old while the man sat with the two older children in his car. According to police, the mother went to the fourth floor while Littlecalf and the small child stayed in the waiting room.

After searching for 30 minutes, she couldn’t find Kanoa or his mother, so she went back to where she left the two. But they were gone. She tried sending Facebook messages to Kanoa, his mother and his “cousin” – who was actually Littlecalf – but nobody responded.

When Littlecalf returned to the vehicle, the man told police he drove her and the three children to an apartment complex in the area of 600 S. Richard Allen Court near Liberty Park, where the woman said her aunt, who wanted to see the baby, lived. She left on foot with the child.

The man told police he waited for two to three hours before texting “Maya” and asking her to come back to the vehicle, describing the two other children as “crying and being upset.” He threatened to go to the police if she did not return.

At about 2:30 a.m., he made good on his promise and showed up at the Public Safety Building with the two kids, who ranged from 1 to 2 years of age. Police helped locate the mother at the hospital, and she provided officers with all of the contact information she had for the King family.

The woman gave police a phone number of Kim King, who she still believed was her boyfriend’s mother. When officers called the number, it went to voicemail. But when they texted it, they got a response from “Klay,” a man who identified himself as Kanoa’s brother. He apparently told officers he had the child and was trying to find the mother. He also told police he was at a motel in Spokane Valley, which turned out to be false when police searched the place.

The number the mother provided police was also the same phone number the man was using to contact Maya for his date.

At about 10:30 a.m. Friday, officers received a call from a woman who identified herself as “Teressa.” According to police, she claimed to be in the intensive care unit of the hospital and said the baby was with her mother.

After pressing further, Teressa told police her legal name was Fern T. Littlecalf. She was calling from a phone in Sacred Heart’s lobby area. The child was sitting in a car seat in the hospital parking garage.

She agreed to meet officers and soon after was taken into custody. The child was returned to his mother.

In subsequent interviews with Littlecalf, her version of the story differed wildly from those of the two who say they were tricked into coming to Spokane. According to her, the Kings are from Kansas and Kanoa was staying at a Comfort Inn in Spokane Valley. Police checked and there’s no record of the Kings checking in at the hotel. Nor was there any record of a man named Kanoa King ever being a patient at Sacred Heart.

Littlecalf told police she met the man from Kennewick this summer and had no contact with him until this incident. She said she was “not friends with him at all,” according to court documents.

She also gave police a list of bogus addresses, where she said family and friends lived. One address was of a man who met the woman on a dating website called Plenty of Fish a few months ago but had not seen her since.

Another address, where she said her aunt lived, turned out to be the residence of two people who moved there three weeks prior. They told officers they did not know the woman, according to police.

Littlecalf, who has no criminal history in Spokane County, had her first appearance in court Monday afternoon, where Superior Court Judge Annette Plese set bond at $50,000. The judge took issue with the severity of the crimes and the woman’s apparent lack of ties to Spokane.

There were no family or friends in court to witness her hearing.

“My concern is she doesn’t have any family here, no job, no house, no ties to the area,” she said, responding to the defense attorney’s request that bail be set at $10,000. “Where would she go if she got out?”

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com