Waterman pleads not guilty in Bush kidnapping case
Missouri woman faces death penalty or life sentence if convicted on federal charge
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Missouri woman pleaded not guilty to a federal charge in connection with kidnapping a pregnant woman resulting in her death.
Amber Waterman, 42, of Pineville, Mo., appeared in federal court Friday and entered the plea at her arraignment. She’s charged federally with one count of kidnapping resulting in death.
The indictment alleges that, between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, she kidnapped Ashley Bush of Maysville, Ark., in order to claim Bush’s unborn child as her own. She’s accused of taking Bush from Maysville to Pineville. The indictment alleges the kidnapping resulted in Bush’s death.
Waterman faces a death sentence or life imprisonment if convicted. She could also be fined up to $250,000.
Federal prosecutors haven’t said whether they will seek the death penalty.
Her husband, Jamie Waterman, 42, of Pineville, is charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping resulting in death. The indictment accuses him of assisting his wife in order to hinder and prevent her apprehension, trial and punishment, knowing she committed the offense of kidnapping resulting in death.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge at his arraignment Monday. The charge carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $125,000.
The Watermans have an accelerated jury trial set for Jan. 9 and a pretrial conference set for Dec. 14.
Benton County prosecutors have charged Amber Waterman with two counts of capital murder and kidnapping in connection with the deaths of Bush and her baby. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty.
Charges beyond the federal kidnapping charge haven’t been filed against Jamie Waterman because the evidence hasn’t revealed he participated in a crime in Arkansas, according to Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith.
Bush, who was 31 weeks pregnant, was last seen in the passenger seat of an older, tan pickup on Oct. 31 at the intersection of Arkansas 72 and Arkansas 43 in Maysville, according to a Nov. 1 post on the Benton County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
A person who called herself “Lucy” picked up Bush on Oct. 31 in Maysville, according to court documents. Authorities said they suspect Amber Waterman was “Lucy.”
Bush’s body was found three days later in Missouri. The body of her baby — Valkyrie Grace — was found in a different location in Missouri, according to court documents.
Jamie Waterman told authorities his wife showed him Bush’s body, which was near their home, according to court documents. He said they burned the body and took the charred remains to another location, the documents say.
Jamie Waterman later led authorities to Bush’s charred body, according to an affidavit.
The Watermans are both being held without bond in the Greene County, Mo., jail.