HOUSTON TX April 18 2012— Capital murder charges have been filed against a woman investigators say fatally shot a mother outside a Woodlands-area pediatric center so she could kidnap the victim’s baby. The suspect, 30-year-old Verna McClain, was in custody Wednesday morning.
Montgomery County deputies say McClain—a registered nurse with three kids of her own—got out of an ice-blue, four-door Lexus around 3:40 p.m. Tuesday at the Northwoods Pediatric Center and shot the victim, Kala Golden, about seven times in the parking lot.
Despite her wounds, deputies said Golden tried to get the baby away from McClain. The suspect hit the dying mother with her car as she reached into the Lexus screaming, “My baby!” according to Lt. Dan Norris with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
An Amber Alert was issued for the baby, 3-day-old Keegan Schuchardt.
Golden was taken to Memorial Hermann in The Woodlands where she died.
Golden’s mother, Linda Golden, told the Associated Press Tuesday that she had been baby-sitting another of Kala’s sons when someone at the scene called her using her daughter’s cellphone.
She rushed to the hospital but was unable to see her daughter because paramedics were trying to save her.
Linda Golden said her daughter died “trying to save her baby.”
Hours after the abduction, investigators spotted McClain’s car at the Fawn Ridge apartment complex, located in the 12400 block of Sawmill Rd. While officers were searching the complex for the missing child, they said McClain showed up and asked to speak to them.
Investigators said McClain admitted to shooting Golden so she could take the baby, and told investigators where Keegan was.
Texas Rangers found the child at a home off FM 1960, where McClain’s parents live, around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. The baby was with McClain’s sister, deputies said. He was not harmed.
Neighbors were shocked to hear what happened.
“I’m thinking this is crazy. I’m thinking this doesn’t really happen every day in the city. I mean, you hear about a lot of shootings and other types of crimes, but somebody kidnaps a baby, 3 days old, and the mother to be shot? I mean, that’s serious stuff. That’s really scary,” neighbor Frank Johnson said.
“I feel so, so, so terrible for the family and the baby that will never get to know his mother,” neighbor Amanda Johnson said. “I can’t imagine. I have an 8-year-old. I can’t imagine not being able to see him grow up. It’s really sad.”
Investigators said the sister told them that in the days before the abduction, McClain had spoken to her about adopting a baby soon.
Keegan was placed in CPS custody, but was released to unnamed family members late Wednesday morning.
Keegan’s father, Keith Schuchardt, said he did not have his son.
Schuchardt said he hasn’t yet signed Keegan’s birth certificate, complicating the process of getting his child back.
“My son-in-law is trying to get his child, and they got to run background checks on everybody before we can even get our baby back. My daughter’s baby. It was my daughter that was murdered. And it’s just really sad,” said Linda Golden, the victim’s mother.
Keith Schuchardt said he was at work when he got the call about the shooting, and by the time he got to the hospital, his wife was dead. He said he didn’t know why anyone would want to harm her.
“It’s just a random thing, I think. We don’t have any enemies. I don’t know why anyone would do it. Maybe she lost her baby and wanted a baby … or to sell him. I want to get my baby back. I know that,” Schuchardt said.
Though initial reports from the scene of the abduction indicated there was a man in the car with McClain, detectives on Wednesday morning said they believe she acted alone.
Still, the investigation was ongoing, and investigators were planning to examine evidence and conduct additional interviews later in the day.