Mother’s throat slashed, baby abducted in Missouri

UNION, Mo. – Police released a sketch yesterday of a woman they believe stole a baby after slashing the mother’s throat, hoping to generate new clues in the four-day old case.

Stephanie Ochsenbine, 21, helped police artists with the composite drawing of the woman she said attacked her at her home Friday and snatched her baby, Abigale Lynn Woods, now 10 days old.

The drawing shows a woman with dark hair wearing a baseball cap. Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said the suspect is believed to be between 5-foot-4 and 5-8 and weighs about 200 pounds.

“I think the leads are over 250, and we anticipate getting more calls with the release of the composite,” Toelke said at a news conference releasing the sketch.

Toelke said Stephanie Ochsenbine “wasn’t completely happy” with the sketch “but it’s the best we could come up with.”

Ochsenbine was released from St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in suburban St. Louis on Sunday.

She did not attend the news conference. Her grandfather, James Ochsenbine, declined to comment on behalf of the family and declined an interview request with his granddaughter, saying they wanted her to rest.

FBI agent Roland Corvington said he was hopeful the baby, called Abby by her relatives, is alive.

“From history, if somebody wants a child, I would assume that child’s being taken care of,” he said.

Corvington said authorities were still awaiting lab results on fingerprints from a knife found Sunday near the home, about 45 miles southwest of St. Louis.

About 100 members of the Missouri National Guard who have assisted in the investigation have ended their grid search of the area near the home. Toelke said authorities will rely on tips and interviews, though additional searches are planned.

Fliers showing the baby were posted in gas stations and restaurants in Union. The 6-pound girl, born Sept. 8, has dark hair and a strawberry birthmark on her forehead.

Ochsenbine told police she did not know the woman who came to her door and entered the house asking to use the telephone. Ochsenbine’s 1-year-old son, Connor, also was in the house but was unharmed.

Ochsenbine and others close to her are not considered suspects, but Toelke said no one has been ruled out.

Authorities have asked hospitals and doctors to be on the lookout for anyone bringing in a newborn.

The abductor has been profiled as someone who had a child die recently or as someone who could not have children, told people she was pregnant and needed to steal a child so her lie would not be found out.

“Historically, these types of people have cased hospitals,” Corvington said.

From 1983 to 2002, there were 217 reported cases of non-family infant abductions, and all but a few babies were recovered safely within 25 miles of where they had been taken, according to a 2003 study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. About three-quarters of the kidnapped infants were recovered in fewer than five days.