News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 23, 2010

Dad thwarts abduction: Suspect believed to be 'Baby shopping' says sheriff

Woman arrested for allegedly stabbing couple, trying to snatch their newborn

PRAIRIE CREEK — A Terre Haute woman arrested Wednesday afternoon at a Prairie Creek home where two people were stabbed will be arraigned in court today on preliminary charges of attempted murder and attempted kidnapping.

Stephanie Foster, 34, is being held in the Vigo County Jail without bond on an allegation that she attacked a husband and wife and tried to kidnap their newborn baby from its home on South 53rd Place in Prairie Creek just west of Indiana 63.

Both the husband and wife sustained multiple stab wounds and were taken to area hospitals for treatment. The wife was listed in critical condition at Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis as of 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The husband was treated at Terre Haute Regional Hospital and was released, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The infant was not harmed and after the incident was given into the care of relatives.

Sheriff Jon Marvel said at the scene it did not appear that the victims knew the suspect prior to the attack. Foster made no statement during her arrest, he said.

Marvel said the victims gave police preliminary information at their home before being transported for treatment. It is believed the suspect somehow knew an infant was at the home, Marvel said, adding police suspect that Foster was faking a pregnancy and was “baby shopping” for a newborn child.

The suspect’s 4-door Kia Rio auto was parked in the victims’ driveway just outside the south door of the home, just a few feet from the door where the suspect allegedly knocked and asked the wife to use the telephone. When Foster was not allowed to enter the home, she allegedly returned to her car and retrieved a pistol, which police believe she then used to force entry into the home.

At some point, Marvel said, Foster grabbed a knife from somewhere in the home and started attacking the wife. The husband, who was asleep because he works a night shift, was awakened by the attack and responded to help his wife.

Police were alerted to the attack by a 911 call made by the male victim at 2:30 p.m.

Sgt. Joe Watts of the Indiana State Police had been on patrol in the Prairieton area when he heard the radio dispatch of a double stabbing with the suspect still inside the residence.

Watts later told the Tribune-Star at the scene that he knew it was a serious call, and that there was a chance he was the closest officer in the area, so he responded to assist. As he pulled up, Watts said, he saw Terre Haute Police Officer Larry Manley, who lives near the victims’ residence, arriving at the same time.

Watts said he and Manley went to the south door of the residence, where through the door window they could see a woman on the floor of the kitchen, not moving and with visible stab wounds. Watts and Manley kicked in the locked door and found the husband in the living room, where he had the suspect held on the floor.

Watts said he and Manley immediately cuffed Foster, and then began trying to help the injured victims. The husband appeared to have a stab wound to the stomach area, Watts said, while the wife had multiple stab wounds to her back and left arm.

The wife asked police to check on her baby, Watts said, and the infant was found asleep in a baby carrier on the living room floor, undisturbed by the struggle.

“If the husband hadn’t stopped her, she could have grabbed the baby and gone,” Watts said of the apparent kidnapping attempt.

He said the husband, despite his injuries, did a good job of restraining the woman until police arrived. The gun allegedly brandished by the suspect was found on the floor of the home. The knife apparently used in the attack was recovered from the kitchen floor, Watts said.

Both Sheriff Marvel and Sgt. Watts said Wednesday’s incident is an uncommon crime for Vigo County.

“In 25 years of law enforcement, I’ve never came on this particular type of call,” Watts said.

Marvel called Praire Creek a quiet little burg.

“We seldom have problems out here,” he said. “This is just one of those freak things you read about in the big cities.”

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com.

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