SPRING, Texas – Authorities say a woman accused of killing a young mother and abducting her 3-day-old baby had recently suffered a miscarriage.
Montgomery County investigators on Wednesday said Verna McClain, 30, had been pregnant with her fiancé’s child, and the couple was planning to marry in May. But after she suffered a miscarriage, investigators said McClain decided to find another child and convince her fiancé it was his.
"She needed to justify having a child to her [fiancé]," Capt. Bruce Zenor with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said. "And she had led him to believe that she was pregnant and had a child, so she needed a child. She needed to produce a child."
McClain is accused of shooting Kala Golden multiple times outside the Northwood Pediatric Center near The Woodlands Tuesday afternoon and taking Golden’s newborn son, Keegan Schuchardt.
Keegan was found unharmed hours later, with McClain’s sister.
Investigators said McClain went to the Northwoods Pediatric Center Tuesday specifically to find a woman with a baby.
"We think she knew the patterns of the pediatric center because she’d taken her children there in the past," said Lt. Dan Norris with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
Kala Golden had taken her baby to Northwood Tuesday for a checkup. When she returned to her truck, McClain was waiting with a handgun, according to authorities.
"An altercation erupted with the suspect. The suspect shot Kala several times, then took the child from the pickup," said Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Gage.
Despite her wounds, deputies said Golden tried to get the baby away from McClain. The suspect hit the dying mother with her car as Golden reached into the Lexus screaming, "My baby!" according to Norris.
An Amber Alert was quickly issued for Keegan, and Golden was rushed to Memorial Hermann in The Woodlands, where she died.
Hours after the abduction, detectives who canvassed parking lots in the area spotted a Lexus fitting the description of the killer’s car at the Fawn Ridge apartment complex, located in the 12400 block of Sawmill Rd.
While officers were searching the complex for the missing child, they said McClain showed up and asked to speak to them.
Investigators said McClain admitted to shooting Golden so she could take the baby, and told investigators where Keegan was.
Texas Rangers found the child at a home where McClain’s parents live, around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. The baby was with McClain’s sister, deputies said. He was not harmed.
The sheriff’s office said that McClain tried to represent Keegan as her own child to family members. Her sister allegedly told authorities that McClain had plans to "do the adoption" after taking Keegan.
Keegan was placed in CPS custody, but was released to unnamed family members late Wednesday morning.
Keegan’s father, Keith Schuchardt, said he did not have his son.
Schuchardt said he hasn’t yet signed Keegan’s birth certificate, complicating the process of getting his child back.
"My son-in-law is trying to get his child, and they got to run background checks on everybody before we can even get our baby back. My daughter’s baby. It was my daughter that was murdered. And it’s just really sad," said Linda Golden, the victim’s mother.
Keith Schuchardt said he was at work when he got the call about the shooting, and by the time he got to the hospital, his wife was dead. He said he didn’t know why anyone would want to harm her.
"It’s just a random thing, I think. We don’t have any enemies. I don’t know why anyone would do it. Maybe she lost her baby and wanted a baby … or to sell him. I want to get my baby back. I know that," Schuchardt said.
Though initial reports from the scene of the abduction indicated there was a man in the car with McClain, detectives on Wednesday morning said they believe she acted alone.
Still, the investigation was ongoing Wednesday.
Deputies said they were interviewing McClain’s fiancé, who was not named, Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators said it was not clear why McClain chose to take Keegan, who is white, if she intended to pass the child off as her own. Deputies said both McClain and her fiancé are black.