Mom's Kidnapping Story 'Unravels' After Baby Found Alive -- Thrown Down 75-Foot Ravine

Asheville Police

Police have arrested a North Carolina mother who they believe threw her baby girl 75 feet down a ravine and then made up a story to cover her tracks. Krista Noelle Madden from Asheville, North Carolina, allegedly told investigators that her 7-week-old daughter, Shaylie, had been kidnapped, but her story unraveled when the girl was discovered alive at the bottom of the ravine.

  • According to Madden, both she and her infant had been kidnapped by a man and a woman wearing ski masks.

    Police confirmed  to CBS News that it wasn't Madden herself who reported that she and her daughter had been snatched on Thursday. But after they received a call from an unidentified individual reporting the incident, they were able to ping Madden's phone and track her down to neighboring Henderson County. 

    Around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Henderson Police also got involved in the search for Madden and her infant daughter. It was reported that Madden had been seen near a church on a rural road. Police were able to use this information to locate the new mom. They also found her car abandoned a short distance away.

    They brought her into the station to help get identifying information about the alleged kidnappers. Madden claimed she and Shaylie had been taken by a man and woman with thin builds wearing ski masks. CNN reported that Madden told police that she had been able to escape her captors, but not Shaylie. She said the kidnappers still had her daughter and she had last been seen wearing a pink onesie with horizontal white stripes.

    She also told police that she had approached a man while she was wandering to tell him she and her daughter had been kidnapped. It was the stranger who called police and reported the story that Madden had told him.

    Police searched Madden's car using police canines but discovered nothing about the missing girl. 

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  • Madden's story began to unravel after a stranger reported a missing baby who had been found at crying at the bottom of a ravine near her house. 

    Scott Fowler told police that his wife had heard the crying coming from a rock ravine near his driveway, reported WSOC TV.  She had gone to check the mail and could hear that distinctive sound.

    “My wife said, ‘Scott, there's a baby crying down there.’ I'm thinking, what kind of human being can do this?” he said.

    Fowler began to search the ravine, which is a 75-foot drop in a mountainous part of North Carolina -- 25 miles from Asheville, where Shaylie is from. 

    "So I went down there and got it," he said. "We got it checked out and in a few minutes it just calmed right down, like it was in its mama's arms."

    Fowler's wife called the Henderson County's Sheriff's Office and reported that she had found a baby “down in the woods.”

    She told police the baby was badly bruised, her head was "banged up,” and her leg was badly injured.

    “There’s no people down here,” Fowler's wife told police. “We’re in a remote area. Somebody must have pulled up beside and tossed her like a piece of trash.

    “It’s a little baby girl,” she said. “She’s so scared. She’s so scared."

  • In a press conference Friday, police announced that they believed Madden lied about the kidnapping.

    Police now believe that Madden threw her daughter down the steep ravine. "At this point, we don't believe that (her story) to be factual at all -- none of that," Sheriff Lowell Griffin said.

    "All indications lead us to believe that she was the one and she acted alone," he added.

    Shaylie had been in her car seat when her mother threw her off the edge of the ravine, CNN reported.

    "When the child was discovered, the child was out of the car seat," Griffin told WLOS. "However, the indications lead us to believe that the child went over the bank in the car seat after it hit the ground. Subsequently, the child rolled out of the car seat."

    So far Madden has not admitted to the crime, but she has given police enough information for them to form a strong suspicion. "She did provide enough information about her involvement that gave us the probable cause that working in conjunction with the district attorney as we made contact and came to the conclusion we would move ahead with the attempted murder charge,” Griffin told WSOC.

    Madden has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. She made her first appearance in court Monday and has been placed on a $750,000 bond. The district attorney said Madden will be represented by counsel in both Asheville and Henderson counties. He added that her lawyers will most likely ask that her mental health be evaluated. 

    As for Shaylie, Griffin said that the girl is "in very good condition" and is being treated at the hospital. He said Buncombe County Social Work Services has taken interest in the girl and is working on her case.

    "This was, simply, in my opinion, by the grace of a merciful God, that we had a female that goes to check her mailbox," Griffin continued, amazed. "She really believes she hears the faint cries of an infant. She summons her husband, who is a self-employed grading contractor. He arrives in the area, descends about (75 feet), into a 75-foot ravine, to find the child alone with a car seat, over the bank.”