Legally speaking, the other shoe dropped for a Missouri woman federally charged with kidnapping a pregnant Arkansas woman. Amber Dawn Waterman, 42, now faces two counts of capital murder for allegedly killing Ashley Bush, 33, and the slain woman’s unborn child Valkyrie Grace Willis.
Records show prosecutors in Benton County, Arkansas, are bringing up Willis’ age — younger than 12 years old — as an aggravating circumstance. The local prosecutor plans on pursuing the death penalty.
As previously reported, Waterman allegedly posted online as a woman named “Lucy.” An account under the name “Lucy Barrows” was made on Oct. 25, linked to an IP account associated with her co-defendant husband Jamie Waterman, also 42. This so-called “Lucy” offered baby items for mothers in need. Sadly, investigators said, decided to meet “Lucy” at a library in Gravette, Arkansas, on Oct. 28. From there, “Lucy” offered to get her a job interview: It was a work-from-home position for a company based out of Bentonville, Arkansas. Authorities said that Bush, who was about 31 weeks pregnant with Valkyrie, agreed.
Her fiancée Joshua Willis dropped her off at a convenience store in Mayville, Arkansas, on Halloween, authorities said. The plain was for “Lucy” to pick her up, take her to the interview, and return her to the store. Willis later reported his fiancée missing after his calls to her kept going to voicemail, and when he spotted the suspect’s tan truck passing the store and heading north, authorities said.
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.
But authorities soon announced the tragic discovery of both Bush and her unborn child. Investigators said both were found dead in separate locations.
“We have found Ashley Bush, who was murdered, in our opinion,” said Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway in Arkansas, speaking before the murder case. “We also have found her baby Valkyrie Grace Willis who is deceased as well, and was found in a separate location.”
“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,” Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith said.
Authorities said that Amber Waterman’s motive was to claim Bush’s unborn baby as her own. She allegedly told shifting stories about what she was doing on Oct. 31. For example, she asserted that she was with her son and husband’s cousin’s daughter, authorities said. But she claimed later to have gone into labor and given birth to a stillborn child on the evening of Oct. 31.
Investigators say Jamie Waterman, who is charged federally as an accessory after the fact in his wife’s kidnapping case, confessed to playing a role in helping his wife hide Bush’s body. From documents:
JAMIE WATERMAN stated that the body was clothed and was lying face-down next to a boat next to the house. The body was covered with a blue tarp. AMBER WATERMAN removed a ring from Ms. Bush’s finger and rolled the body onto the blue tarp. JAMIE WATERMAN dragged the body on the tarp to a fire pit behind the residence and AMBER WATERMAN asked JAMIE WATERMAN to get gasoline. JAMIE WATERMAN brought a gallon of chainsaw bar chain oil to AMBER WATERMAN. AMBER WATERMAN proceeded to light the tarp and poured about 1/3 of the oil over the body. AMBER WATERMAN then began collecting wood to throw on the fire. JAMIE WATERMAN stated that he dragged a small sofa next to the fire and believes that AMBER WATERMAN put the sofa into the fire. After the fire burned for about one hour, AMBER WATERMAN doused the fire with water from a garden hose and JAMIE WATERMAN to remove the body from the burn pile.
In a similar case, a Texas woman was sentenced to death this week for murdering a pregnant friend and cutting her unborn child from her womb. Authorities investigating Bush’s death have not specified how her unborn child came to be found in a separate location.
Aaron Keller and Matt Naham contributed to this report.
[Mugshot via Waterman via McDonald County Detention Center; image of Bush via Benton County Sheriff’s Office]
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