Warning: Some details of this story are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.
McDONALD COUNTY, Mo. (KNWA/KFTA) — A husband and wife from Pineville, Missouri have both been charged in connection with the death of a pregnant woman who was found in southwest Missouri on November 3.
Amber Waterman, 42, was charged with kidnapping resulting in death and her husband, Jamie Waterman, 42, was charged with being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping resulting in death. Both suspects were charged in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri in Springfield.
Court documents state that Amber Waterman abducted Ashley Bush, 33, “for the purpose and benefit of claiming Ashley Bush’s child as the defendant’s child,” and that she transported her across state lines, from Arkansas to Missouri. Bush was reported missing to the Benton County Sheriff’s office at approximately 6:30 p.m. on October 31.
Bush was 31 weeks pregnant and was last seen as a passenger in a tan pickup truck shortly after 3 p.m. at the intersection of Highway 72 and Highway 43 in Maysville. The vehicle’s driver was described as a “white female, in her 40s, with shoulder length brown hair.”
Bush’s fiance, Joshua Willis, saw her and reported that he recognized the driver as a woman he knew named “Lucy.” He told investigators that he and his fiancee met “Lucy” at the Gravette public library on October 28, and that she was driving the same truck at the time.
Willis explained that the victim and “Lucy” discussed employment opportunities and that the suspect messaged later that evening to set up a meeting with Bush and her supervisor in Bentonville on October 31 at 9 a.m. She messaged again and told Bush that they would meet at a convenience store in Maysville before the meeting about the job.
Willis drove Bush to the convenience store and later received a text message at approximately 3 p.m. asking him to pick her up there. He reported that while he was waiting, he saw the suspect’s truck drive past the store and turn north onto Highway 43.
Willis saw the suspect and the victim in the truck and when he attempted to call her, it went directly to voicemail. On November 1, he informed investigators that he found her phone on the side of the highway. Detectives recovered it and took it to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office for further review.
In doing so, they discovered a social media account for “Lucy” which appeared to have been created on October 25, with the full name “Lucy Barrows.” Investigators found a public post from that account that read “I have a bunch of baby items if any moms to be need them.”
Two witnesses told detectives that they saw a man throw a cell phone from the window of a pickup truck traveling north on Highway 43 on October 31. Detectives determined that the “Lucy Barrows” account was created on October 25 through an IP address belonging to Jamie Waterman.
Detectives obtained cell phone data and “observed a timeline of events contained within the victim’s Google Maps account” showing that the phone traveled from Gravette to Maysville on October 31 and then left the area at approximately 11:41 a.m. The phone showed a return to Maysville at approximately 6:51 p.m.
Further investigation revealed that the victim’s phone traveled to an area in Pinesville approximately .15 miles away from the Waterman residence. Benton County Sheriff’s Office detectives coordinated with the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office to travel to that address on November 1, where they met with the suspects.
Investigators were granted permission to conduct a search of the property and found a tan Chevrolet pickup truck matching the one Willis reported seeing. A detective “observed what he believed to be blood stains on the inside of the vehicle” on the center console, steering wheel and headliner.
When interviewed, Amber Waterman told investigators that she had been at the residence all day on October 31 with her son and another relative. She said that she went into labor that afternoon and drove to meet an ambulance at a nearby store. She told detectives that she “delivered a stillborn child that evening.”
She told investigators that she had lost her phone and that she was “the only person with access” to the pickup truck and that she had the only keys to it. When asked about the victim, she said that she did not know her.
When asked about “Lucy Barrows,” she informed a detective that she knew “Lucy” and had previously worked with her. She added that she hadn’t seen “Lucy” in a few weeks.
Jamie Waterman told investigators that he went to work at 6 a.m. on October 31 and came home for lunch at noon. When he arrived, the truck was gone and nobody appeared to be at home. He returned to work in his own vehicle and received a call at approximately 4:30 p.m. from his wife, informing him that she was having a miscarriage.
He said that he had no knowledge regarding the missing woman. The tan truck was seized and taken into evidence pending the issuance of a search warrant.
On November 3, members of the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI executed a state search warrant at the Waterman residence in Pineville. FBI evidence response team members from the Kansas City and Little Rock divisions participated in the search.
While the search was conducted, FBI agents conducted an interview of Jamie Waterman at his place of employment. He said that he discovered blood inside the tan pickup truck on October 31 and assumed that it came from his wife’s “pregnancy complications.”
He added that he watched her “clean the blood from the pickup truck” and burn the rags used to do so in a barrel located in front of their residence. He then collected trash from the home and burned it in the same barrel.
During the interview, he stated that when detectives arrived on November 2, he “was aware that Ms. Bush had been reported as missing.” He says he learned about this “through social media coverage.” After detectives left at approximately 5 a.m. on November 2, Amber Waterman reportedly informed Jamie Waterman that she had killed Bush and then “quickly changed her story” and said that “Lucy” had killed her.
At approximately 6:30 a.m., she allegedly led him to the body. Jamie Waterman stated that it was “clothed and was lying face-down next to a boat next to the house.” The body was covered with a blue tarp.
According to court documents, Amber Waterman removed a ring from Bush’s finger and rolled the body onto the tarp. Jamie Waterman then “dragged the body on the tarp to a fire pit behind the residence” and she asked him to “get gasoline.”
He then brought her a gallon of chainsaw bar chain oil. She reportedly proceeded to light the tarp and “poured about 1/3 of the oil over the body.” She then collected wood to throw onto the fire.
He stated that he dragged a small sofa next to the fire and he believes that she added it to the blaze. After the fire burned for about an hour, Amber Waterman doused it with a garden hose.
Jamie Waterman attempted to move the body, but it was still “very hot,” so he went to a nearby shed, retrieved another tarp and rolled the body onto it. He then moved the body to the bed of his truck.
The Watermans drove to an area a short distance away. He stated that his truck had been having transmission problems and “could not travel far.”
He later led investigators to that spot, where a “charred human body” was found. Other human remains were found in a burn pile behind the Waterman residence.
The McDonald County Sheriff’s Office says that Bush’s unborn baby was found in a separate location on November 2. According to Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith, Bush died from an apparent gunshot wound.
The Watermans are in federal custody pending detention hearings which have not yet been scheduled. They will be extradited to Arkansas and may face additional charges.
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas Clay Fowlkes said that the circumstances of the case could potentially carry the death penalty in federal court. The investigation is ongoing.