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Baby thrown down ravine, mom charged with attempted murder: sheriff

Jennifer Bowman, Joel Burgess, Elizabeth Anne Brown, Asheville Citizen Times
Published 5:25 p.m. ET May 10, 2019 | Updated 5:26 p.m. ET May 10, 2019

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A 911 call provided by the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office reveals an emotional call from property owners who found Shaylie. The caller, who can be heard crying, tells dispatch that they found a baby “tossed” in the woods near their driveway, and that the baby was screaming and “bruised up.”
Asheville Citizen Times

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – A North Carolina woman faked the kidnapping of herself and her infant daughter and threw the child down a steep ravine, authorities said Friday.

Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin, speaking at a Friday press conference, said it was by the “grace of a merciful God” that the 7-week-old baby girl survived the fall and was found in the rural area.

Krista Noelle Madden, 35, of Asheville has been charged with attempted first-degree murder. She appeared in Henderson County District Court for her first hearing Friday and where her bond was set at $750,000. Her next court appearance is a probable cause hearing set for May 28.

Madden is being represented by two attorneys: Sean Devereux of Asheville and Jason Blackwell of Hendersonville. Neither returned messages seeking comment.

The baby, Shaylie, has been admitted to a hospital, but Griffin said he believes she’s “in very good condition.” Buncombe County Social Work Services is involved in the case, he said.

Kidnapping call

The kidnapping was reported about 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Asheville police officers were gathered in Biltmore Park about 8:15 p.m., where the 911 call originated.

Madden’s listed address is less than a mile away. She did not report the kidnapping, police said.

Police said they pinged Madden’s phone, which identified her potential location in a rural part of eastern Henderson. 

Madden’s Mazda was found abandoned. Police, who were en route to the area, encountered Madden near Barnwell Baptist Church.

While searching for the baby, police issued a description of two suspects, a male and a female, both of a thin build wearing ski masks. The female was described as having black hair and the male having red hair, Madden told police after she was located in Henderson.

But police say those descriptions now appear to be fictitious and that Madden acted alone. Griffin said he believes the person who made the initial 911 call truly thought there had been a kidnapping. State law shields the identity of 911 callers, though both the Asheville and Henderson departments said they would provide copies or transcripts of the calls with identities redacted.

Baby found

About 3½ hours after the kidnapping was reported, police said the baby was found between Edneyville and Chimney Rock.

A 911 call provided by the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office reveals an emotional call from property owners who found Shaylie. The caller, who can be heard crying, tells dispatch that they found a baby “tossed” in the woods and that the baby was screaming and “bruised up.”

“When the child was discovered, the child was out of the car seat,” Griffin said. “However, the indications lead us to believe that the child went over the bank in the car seat after it hit the ground.”

Scott Fowler told the Citizen Times that he found the baby near his driveway. He estimated the baby landed face-up near a rock about 30 feet down the heavily forested ravine.

The ravine drops a total of about 70 feet, he said.

“The baby was in pretty good shape when I picked it up, other than it was bruised up and had a bump or two on its head,” Fowler said Friday.

Those who found her said she was wearing a pink onesie that said, “I love my mommy.”

It was not clear who had custody of the child. Police said they did not know, except that social services was involved. Staff there said state law prevented them from revealing the identity of anyone receiving assistance. Madden’s husband, Jesse, declined to comment.

Madden lists herself as a registered nurse at Mission Health on her Facebook page. Mission spokeswoman Nancy Lindell declined to confirm her employment, saying the company does not comment on ongoing law enforcement investigations.

Psychological evaluation

District Attorney Greg Newman said he expected Madden’s attorneys will request to lower her bond. 

Asked about the possibility of postpartum depression, Newman said he was sure her lawyers will ask to have her evaluated.

“Given the facts as we know them currently, I think we can all expect that she will be undergoing some evaluations for her own well-being and for her defense,” he said.

A psychological condition can become important to a case if it prevented a defendant from knowing right from wrong, he said.

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