Family Mourns Slain Pregnant Woman Ashley Bush as New Details Emerge in Alleged Plot to Take Her Unborn Baby
Pregnant Ashley Bush was kidnapped by woman "who wanted to claim her unborn child as her own," according to federal authorities.
The family of Ashley Boone Bush, who was nearly eight months pregnant when she was killed last week, is drowning in grief as new details emerge in the chilling case of a pregnant woman allegedly slain for her unborn baby.
Bush, 33, was reported missing in Arkansas last Monday. Her body was discovered later in the week in Missouri, where it had been burned by a married couple trying to hide her remains and claim her fetus, according to authorities.
Cousin Lainey Blackburn told Inside Edition Digital that her family is devastated by the loss of Ashley and the unborn baby she had named Valkyrie Grace Willis.
"The best way I know how to describe it is, it's like a nightmare you can't wake up from," Blackburn said Monday. She and Ashley grew up together as first cousins. "Her dad and my dad are brothers," she said.
Ashley had always been loud and bossy and clumsy, her cousin fondly recalled. "She tried to boss her younger sister and all of us around, but we were all kids and we didn't listen to her."
She grew into a "gentle and a kind person," Blackburn said. "She would do anything for her children." Ashley was pregnant with her fourth child when she was taken.
On Friday, federal prosecutors announced that a Missouri couple, Amber and Jamie Waterman, both 42, had been charged in her kidnapping and death.
Amber Waterman was charged with one count of kidnapping resulting in death, according to the federal complaint. Prosecutors contend that Waterman kidnapped Bush in Arkansas "in order to claim her unborn child as her own," according to the complaint, and brought her to the Waterman's home in Missouri.
Jamie Waterman was charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping resulting in death, the document said.
They are being held in Missouri pending a detention hearing, the U.S. Attorney's office said. Their court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.
Since the arrest, new details have emerged. Blackburn said her family had been told Ashley was shot and the fetus was cut from her body.
According to McDonald County Sheriff Robert Everson in Missouri, deputies responded last week to reports of a newborn baby not breathing. Paramedics intercepted the Watermans as they were driving to a local hospital, but were unable to revive the baby, the sheriff said. The woman claimed the newborn was hers, but that could not be verified, Everson said.
McDonald County Coroner BJ Goodwin told CBS affiliate KFSM-TV that he was called to transport the tiny corpse to a funeral home. Amber had allegedly said she suffered a miscarriage, and the placenta was found in her pants by paramedics, Goodwin said.
Ashley's parents are especially hard hit by the horrid details of their daughter's death.
"They are learning all these gruesome details from it flashing on your TV screen," Blackburn said. "Just when you think it can't get any worse, it does."
Ashley was 31 weeks pregnant and had been diagnosed with gestational hypertension, her cousin said. She was trying to find a job she could perform at home, because she was the main earner in the home she shared with her fiancé, who is in ill health and unable to work.
"She went online to find a work-from-home job. She was going to do whatever she had to do to find a job," Blackburn said.
Online, she met "Lucy," who offered to help Ashley find a job, authorities said. Amber Waterman was actually "Lucy" and traveled to Arkansas to meet Ashley in a public library, federal prosecutors said. A few days later, she had another meeting with Ashley, this time under the guise of taking Ashley to an interview with her employer, the complaint said.
Ashley Bush never came home.
Her fiancé is inconsolable.
"He's trying to process and grieve the death of his fiancée and his unborn daughter," Blackburn said. "It's been tough. The future he was looking for is not going to happen."
Blackburn was at the home of her uncle and aunt on Sunday, she said.
"We were talking and telling stories," the cousin said. "She was really into alternative music and you never knew what was going to pop up on her playlist.
"We were trying to focus on the good things and not the evil that is in this situation," she said. "There is way more good in Ashley than what these people did to her."
The family has established a GoFundMe account to benefit Ashley's children.
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