A married couple under arrest in McDonald County, Missouri faces first-degree kidnapping charges in connection with the disappearance of 33-year-old Ashley Bush, who was 31 weeks pregnant at the time she was shot and killed while looking for a work-from-home job opportunity, authorities say.
Ashley Bush was lured online by a woman using the fictitious persona “Lucy” on a job interview posting, and “Lucy” is 42-year-old Amber Waterman, officials said during a Thursday press conference. Waterman and her husband Jamie Waterman, also 42, are accused of kidnapping Bush on Oct. 31 in Maysville, Arkansas before eventually crossing state lines into Missouri, where the remains of Bush and her unborn child, Valkyrie Grace Willis, were found in separate locations.
Investigators did not offer specifics when reporters asked if the suspects had cut the fetus from Bush’s womb, but there have been cases like this before.
On Nov. 1, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in Arkansas posted on Facebook that Bush “was last seen in the passenger seat of and older model tan pickup truck on the afternoon of October 31, 2022 at the intersection of Hwy 72 and Hwy 43 in Maysville Arkansas.”
“The driver was a white woman in her 40’s with shoulder length brown hair who stated her name was ‘Lucy,'” authorities said. “Ashley met Lucy online when she was looking for a job working from home.”
“She has not been seen or heard from since,” the post continued.
Authorities, including the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri and Benton County Sheriff’s Office in Arkansas, provided a tragic update in the case on Thursday and noted the FBI’s involvement in the investigation.
Investigators said they executed a search warrant on Laughlin Ridge Road in Pineville, Missouri and found human remains.
During a press conference announcing the developments in the case, Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway in Arkansas called this “One of the most horrific cases that [he’s] been personally involved with.”
“We have found Ashley Bush, who was murdered, in our opinion. We also have found her baby Valkyrie Grace Willis who is deceased as well, and was found in a separate location,” he said.
Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith said that the investigation is ongoing and that some details can’t be disclosed at this time, but he said that there are multiple venues where this crime can be prosecuted.
“There certainly will be overlapping charges as this case go forward,” Smith said, saying that he believes there would be federal charges for kidnapping leading to murder (across state lines). At the time of this writing, federal court records do not show cases against the defendants.
Smith said issues of jurisdiction remain as to homicide charges while authorities investigate where the deaths occurred.
“The bodies were recovered in the state of Missouri,” Smith confirmed.
The prosecutor also said that “Lucy” was a “fictitious name and had been a persona, and that Amber was the real person.”
Asked by reporters about how “awful” it was that a pregnant woman could be lured and killed by an online predator, Smith said the case is a “reminder that there is evil in the world.”
“People do evil things. And that someone would prey upon a pregnant woman at her most vulnerable state is unimaginable but unfortunately that’s the world we live in,” he said.
Both Smith and Holloway said they haven’t seen a case like it.
McDonald County Jail records show that Amber Waterman and Jamie Waterman were arrested by the FBI and booked into the local jail Thursday afternoon. They are being held without bond.
[Images of suspects via McDonald County Detention Center, Image of Ashley Bush via Benton County Sheriff’s Office]
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