- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 17, 2006

LONEDELL, Mo. (AP) — State and federal investigators continued the search yesterday for a woman who walked into a rural home, told a young mother “I’m here to take your child,” then slashed the mother’s throat and left with her 1-week-old baby.

Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said authorities had some good leads in their search for the attacker and the baby, Abby Woods, but “nothing has headed us in a certain direction.”

The child’s mother said she did not know her attacker, police said. Stephanie Ochsenbine, 21, was in stable condition yesterday after surgery.

The FBI, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri National Guard were helping with the investigation, Mr. Toelke said.

The sheriff asked the public to report any woman who had talked about wanting a child or acted pregnant recently.

“The description is not locked in concrete,” Mr. Toelke said. “It could be someone who had a child die recently or could not have children and has told people they were pregnant and needed to steal a child so their lie would not be found out.”

Franklin County Maj. Mike Copeland noted that a sign celebrating Abby’s birth was displayed in the front yard and was visible from a highway.

The attacker had gained entry to the family’s home Friday afternoon by asking to use Miss Ochsenbine’s telephone. Miss Ochsenbine’s boyfriend, James Woods, who is Abby’s father, was at work at the time, police said.

The women fought after the intruder told Miss Ochsenbine “I’m here to take your child,” and Miss Ochsenbine was stabbed several times and her throat was slashed.

Miss Ochsenbine’s 1-year-old son, Connor, also was in the house but was unharmed.

Miss Ochsenbine passed out and police are not sure how long she was unconscious.

When she regained consciousness, she picked up Connor and went for help, trying two houses where no one was home before arriving at neighbor Pat Bearden’s home.

“She was standing there with blood all over her and said ‘Somebody stole my baby,’” said Mrs. Bearden, 69.

While no one has been ruled out as being involved, Miss Ochsenbine and Mr. Woods are not considered prime suspects, Mr. Toelke said. “We’re not focusing on them,” he said.

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