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Deputies: Couple charged with murder of pregnant Arkansas woman planned to claim child as their own

Amber Waterman is facing charges for allegedly kidnapping and murdering Ashley Bush in order to take her unborn child.

MCDONALD COUNTY, Mo. — A Missouri couple is being charged with the kidnapping and murder of a pregnant Arkansas woman.

42-year-olds Amber and Jamie Waterman are facing federal charges for the disappearance and alleged murder of Ashley Bush. Amber Waterman is charged with one count of kidnapping resulting in death, according to court documents

The federal criminal complaint alleges that between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, 2022, Amber kidnapped Bush, who was 31 weeks pregnant, in order to claim her unborn child as her own. She allegedly took Bush from Maysville, Arkansas, to Pineville, resulting in her death.

Jamie Waterman has been charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping resulting in death. The federal criminal complaint alleges that he helped Amber Waterman after the kidnapping and murder.

RELATED: Timeline: The kidnapping and murder of pregnant Arkansas woman Ashley Bush

Amber Waterman is accused of creating a fake Facebook account under the name of "Lucy Barrows" on Oct. 25, 2022, to lure Bush into meeting her so she could steal her unborn child. 

Bush was reported missing on Monday, Oct. 31. Her fiancé, Josh Willis, told law enforcement that he saw her being driven as a passenger in a tan pickup truck by a woman he knew as “Lucy.” They had originally met “Lucy” at the Gravette public library a few days earlier, at which time “Lucy” was driving the same pickup truck. During this meeting at the library, “Lucy” and Bush had discussed employment opportunities, and later that day, “Lucy” offered to drive her to meet her supervisor at a Bentonville company, Bush's fiance said.

"Lucy" was supposed to take Bush to Bentonville for an interview on Oct. 31, but when Bush’s fiancé showed up to pick her up at the Handi-Stop in Maysville he said he saw "Lucy" make eye contact with him and drive away.

According to an arrest affidavit, Amber told detectives that she had been home all day on Oct. 31 with her son and another child, and she "went into labor" that afternoon.

After calling 911, Amber traveled to meet an ambulance at a store in McDonald County. Amber told detectives that she had delivered a stillborn child that evening.

According to KOAM, our CBS affiliate, McDonald County Sheriff Evenson said they responded to reports of a newborn baby not breathing on Monday night. EMS intercepted the couple near Longview, Mo. as they were on the way to a hospital.

According to McDonald County Coroner BJ Goodwin, Amber allegedly had the placenta in her pants when EMS showed up, causing Jamie to think she had the baby.

Goodwin says a helicopter was called to take the baby and Amber to the hospital, but EMS could not revive the baby, and the baby died. Amber allegedly refused medical treatment, so the baby was taken to an area funeral home and the placenta was retrieved from her. Goodwin says that it appeared the baby was "cut out" of the mother.

On Nov. 1, detectives met with the Watermans who let them search the home and the tan-colored truck, matching the description of the one Bush was last seen in, according to prosecutors.

When detectives asked for Amber's phone, she told them that she had lost it. She also told investigators that she was the only person who had access to the tan-colored truck that was at the home.

When asked if she had known about Bush, Amber told detectives that she did not know her. When asked about "Lucy Barrows," Amber said that she previously had worked with her at Walmart but they were not close, according to court records.

Also on Nov.1, the Watermans showed up at the funeral home to plan a ceremony for the baby that Wednesday. Goodwin says they wanted to cremate the baby's remains.

Goodwin says the service was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2, but that morning the Benton County Coroner called asking for a DNA swab from the baby. He says he was very cautious as it seemed "far-fetched" and the family said she had already miscarried four times, so they were very "emotionally upset."

He says the Watermans tried to dispose of Bush’s body the same day they showed up for the baby’s memorial service.  

“They got cleaned up after burning and disposing her body and showed up for a funeral,” Goodwin said.

He says the funeral was exactly what you would expect of parents who lost a child. Goodwin says nothing was out of the ordinary at the time and less than a dozen people were there.

Goodwin says the baby was a "beautiful" girl and that Amber was a "cold-blooded killer" and a "good actor."

According to Goodwin, the Benton County Coroner arrived after the memorial service to take the baby for an autopsy. Goodwin says the Waterman’s demeanor changed when they found out an autopsy would be performed, and Amber allegedly asked multiple times if DNA tests would be performed. He says as soon as Jamie heard that, he “got up and ran out of the funeral home.”

“Hands down craziest things I have ever dealt with as a coroner for 16 years," Goodwin said.

Goodwin says the Watermans had named the baby Dakota.

A vehicle at the Waterman's home was seized by law enforcement and search warrants were obtained on Thursday, Nov. 3, for their vehicle and home. During the search, detectives found what they believed to be blood stains on the inside of the vehicle.

Detectives questioned Jamie again on Nov. 3.

According to the affidavit, he told detectives that, after they had questioned them and left their home on Nov. 1, Amber told him she had killed Bush and then quickly changed her story and said “Lucy” had killed her.

Court records state that Amber led Jamie to the body of Bush, who was lying face down next to a boat near their house, covered in a blue tarp, on Nov. 1 

Amber removed a ring from Bush’s finger and rolled her body onto the blue tarp, the affidavit says, which Jamie then dragged to a fire pit behind the home. The Watermans allegedly burned the body, moved it onto the bed of Jamie's blue GMC pickup, and drove a short distance from their home to hide the body.

In court on Nov. 4, the Watermans were assigned a public defender. The federal prosecutor asked the court to hold them without bond until their trial. A hearing will be held in Springfield on Nov. 9 for the court to rule on that issue. Until then, they will be in federal custody.

Both of the suspects were booked into the Greene County Missouri jail late Nov. 4. They're being held there for U.S. Marshals.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie L. Wan and James J. Kelleher. They were investigated by the FBI, the Benton County, Ark., Sheriff’s Department, and the McDonald County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas and the Benton County, Ark., Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

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