A grandmother of a newborn girl stolen from a rural home pleaded Saturday for the baby's safe return, as authorities searched for an abductor who stabbed and seriously injured the infant's mother before fleeing with the child.
"The family's in agony," Raylene Ochsenbine said at a news conference. "Just give her back."
The attacker walked into the home, told Abby Woods' mother "I'm here to take your child," then slashed the young mother's throat and fled with the 1-week-old child.
The baby's pediatrician, Andy Zupan, said the abduction comes at a time when the baby is still adjusting to life. She is already overdue for a doctor's visit, Zupan said, and had been breast-feeding.
"We just want her to just take her to a church or a hospital," Ochsenbine said. "Just give her back."
Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said authorities had some good leads in their search for the attacker and the baby but "nothing has headed us in a certain direction."
The child's mother said she did not know her attacker, police said. Stephanie Ochsenbine, 21, was in stable condition Saturday following surgery.
"She's torn apart," Raylene Ochsenbine said.
The FBI, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri National Guard were helping with the investigation, Toelke said. The sheriff asked the public to report any woman who had talked about wanting a child or acted pregnant recently.
"The description is not locked in concrete," Toelke said. "It could be someone who had a child die recently or could not have children and has told people they were pregnant and needed to steal a child so their lie would not be found out."
Franklin County Maj. Mike Copeland noted that a sign celebrating Abby's birth was displayed in the front yard and was plainly visible from a highway.
The attacker had gained entry to the family's home in Lonedell, about 45 miles south of St. Louis, on Friday afternoon by asking to use Stephanie Ochsenbine's telephone. Ochsenbine's boyfriend and Abby's father, James Woods, was at work at the time, police said.
They fought after the woman told Ochsenbine "I'm here to take your child," and Ochsenbine was stabbed several times and her throat was slashed.
Ochsenbine's 1-year-old son, Connor, also was in the house but was unharmed.
Ochsenbine passed out and police aren't sure how long she was unconscious.
When she regained consciousness, she picked up Connor and went for help, trying two houses where no one was home before arriving at neighbor Pat Bearden's home.
"She was standing there with blood all over her and said 'Somebody stole my baby,'" said Pat Bearden, 69.
While no one has been ruled out as being involved, Ochsenbine and Woods are not considered prime suspects, Toelke said. "We're not focusing on them," he said.