Sheriff: 'By grace of God' baby found alive down 70-foot ravine; mom charged

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The mother at the center of a reported kidnapping of a 7-week-old baby in Asheville, North Carolina has been arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder, authorities announced Friday.

Police said they charged 35-year-old Krista Noelle Madden based on information gathered at the various scenes and during her interviews with authorities after the child was found.

(Krista Madden)

Asheville police tweeted Thursday evening that the baby was kidnapped in Biltmore Park, a mixed-use area that has retail stores. Officials said it was not Madden who reported the initial incident to police.

Less than three hours after the first tweet, authorities said the baby had been found safe in adjacent Henderson County.

Authorities said a car believed to have been used in the abduction was also found in Henderson County, but police said the vehicle was later identified as Madden's.

Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin said authorities believe the baby was tossed down a 50-75 foot ravine.

The man who found the baby, Scott Fowler, told ABC affiliate WLOS his wife heard a faint cry coming from a rock ravine near his driveway. He went to investigate and that was when he discovered Shaylie near a car seat, at the bottom of the ravine.

Police said they believe Madden tossed the baby down the ravine while in her car seat but that the child somehow came out of the seat.

"It's by the grace of God" that Shaylie was found alive, the Henderson County sheriff said during Friday morning's news conference.

“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 said Shaylie was in good shape when he found her and that she stopped crying once he picked her up.

Police looked for evidence in his yard, trying to find whoever might have left the infant there.

Initially, Madden said she and Shaylie were kidnapped by a man and woman wearing ski masks and she was able to get away.

Investigators said that on Thursday around 6 p.m. Madden approached a man at the Barnwell Baptist Church in Henderson County, just down the road from where her car was abandoned. Police said she told the man she and her baby were kidnapped.

The man called authorities and Madden was taken to the Sheriff's Department to be interviewed.

Police said they think Madden made up the whole story. They think she acted alone, driving her child to Henderson County and abandoning her before ditching her vehicle and telling police the child had been kidnapped.

Police said the 35-year-old mother did not admit to coming up with a kidnapping scheme but said the information she gave them during their interview was telling.

“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,” said Sheriff Griffin in a press conference Friday morning.

It is unknown if more charges will be filed.

Madden made her first appearance in court Friday and is being held in Henderson County under a $750,000 bond.

The district attorney said Madden has lawyers from both Asheville and Henderson County representing her. He said he believes her lawyers will ask for her to be evaluated.

WLOS contributed to this article.

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