A woman arrested in connection with the shooting death of a mother and the kidnapping of her newborn baby apparently intended to present the baby as her own, investigators said.
Verna Deann McClain, 31, was charged with capital murder. She is being held without bond. Detectives said she is in a single cell and is not under suicide watch. Investigators said they believe she acted alone.
"She does appear remorseful," Detective John Schmitt said.
Kala Marie Golden Schuchardt, 28, was shot numerous times and her 3-day-old son, Keegan, was kidnapped outside a Montgomery County pediatrician's office Wednesday shortly after 2 p.m. Montgomery County sheriff's deputies said it appeared to be a stranger abduction.
"The investigation so far would indicate that this was a random choice," Capt. Bruce Zenor said. "I think she knew the patterns at the pediatric center where she was at because she had taken her children there in the past."
McClain has two children of her own, investigators said.
Records showed that McClain, a licensed vocational nurse, admitted to shooting Schuchardt and taking her son. After taking the newborn, McClain told her sister that she now had the child and was ready to start the paperwork to adopt him, according to court records.
Detectives said McClain had recently had a miscarriage, but she told her fiancé that she had given birth to his child.
"She needed to justify to her soon-to-be (husband), they were going to get married in May," Zenor said. "She told him she was pregnant and had given birth to a child, by him."
Keegan is white. McClain is black. Zenor said McClain's fiancé is not white.
"She represented this as her child," Zenor said.
Zenor said the child was never presented to McClain's fiancé.
The healthy 3-day-old infant was found around 8 p.m. Wednesday, after his mother was killed during a verbal altercation in a parking lot, Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said. Investigators said McClain took Keegan to her sister's home along Sugar Pine Drive in Harris County.
Children's Protective Services officials said that Keegan has been turned over to his mother's relatives. He is not with his father, Keith Schuchardt, for a few reasons. He has not yet signed his son's birth certificate. CPS said it is checking into the family's home life and Keith Schuchardt's criminal background, which includes a drug charge. Officials said they were also waiting for drug test results before the father could have custody of Keegan.
Kala Marie Golden Schuchardt, who also had 2- and 4-year-old sons, was leaving an afternoon checkup with her son when she had a verbal altercation with a woman in a Lexus parked next to her pickup truck, Lt. Dan Norris said.
"We believe that some sort of a verbal altercation occurred between the mother of the child and a black female that was in the car parked next to her," Norris said. "The mother of the child tries to get into the vehicle because the black female suspect has taken the child out of the pickup truck and put the child in the Lexus."
Witnesses said the woman repeatedly shot Kala Golden Schuchardt, took the infant and sped away, hitting the dying mother as she screamed "my baby" and tried to reach into the Lexus, Norris said. Witnesses reported hearing as many as seven gunshots.
Detectives said that the kidnapper also took Keegan's car seat.
Deputies canvassing the area found the car used in the kidnapping at the Fawnridge Apartments on Sawdust near Sawmill, about a mile from the shooting scene, a few hours after the attack. Investigators said McClain returned to the complex and approached them, claiming to have information about the vehicle.
"She knew from the media that we were looking for that specific vehicle and she knew she was associated with that," Schmitt
Schmitt said McClain acted as if she was trying to be helpful in the investigation.
"We did not approach her or interview her as a suspect at that point," Schmitt
Schmitt said McClain's story started to fall apart during her interview as a witness.
The shooting happened outside the Northwoods Pediatric Center in Spring, which is about 20 miles north of Houston. A statewide emergency Amber Alert was issued for Keegan.
Joshua Jesson said he was in the clinic with his girlfriend when he heard gunshots. He said he saw the Lexus next to the pickup truck, then later looked back and saw the car was gone and a woman lying in the spot where the Lexus had been parked.
"I thought she just passed out. Then somebody ran in here and said, 'Somebody got shot,"' he said.
Police quickly surrounded the clinic and much of the parking lot with crime-scene tape, and yellow markers were placed next to a purse and pair of brown sandals near a red pickup truck. Spent ammunition also was nearby.