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Saturday, April 21, 2012

From A Mother's Arms: The Verna McClain Kidnap Murder Case

     The kidnapping of infants (birth to six months) is not a common crime. From 1983 through 2011, of the 282 infants abducted by strangers, only five are still missing. Most of these babies were taken from their homes, seventeen from pediatric clinics. In 2011, there were eight infant abductions. All of these children were recovered unharmed.

     As vocational nurse, 30-year-old Verna McClain provided basic nursing services under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. Employed at a contract staffing agency, she lived in Houston, Texas. Her estranged husband, Theo McClain, resided in San Diego, California. The couple's three children were being raised by a relative in Houston.

     Engaged to be married, Verna had recently suffered a miscarriage, and was desperate to have a baby. On Tuesday, April 17, at 3:40 in the afternoon, Verna, in search of a baby to abduct, drove her blue Lexus to the Northwoods Pediatric Center in the Houston suburb of Spring. Verna had told her sister, Corina Jackson, that she was going to adopt a child.

     Kala Golden, the 28-year-old mother of four children, pulled her red pickup truck in to the Northwoods Pediatric Center's parking lot with her 3-day-old son, Keegan. Kala was there for the baby's first checkup. Verna watched Kala park her truck, then pulled up next to her. As Kala alighted from her vehicle, and leaned in to lift Keegan and his infant carrier out of the truck, Verna pulled out a pistol and shot Kala eight times.

     As Verna McClain placed the baby into her Lexus, the dying mother, yelling, "My baby! My baby!" lurched at the car. As Verna pulled away with the baby, she hit Kala with the Lexus, knocking the severely wounded woman to the ground. A witness picked up the cellphone lying next to the bleeding woman's body and called the victim's mother.

     Linda Golden, who was babysitting one of her daughter's children, rushed to the clinic where she saw paramedics trying to save Kala. A few minutes later, the bullet ridden mother was on her way to the hospital in an ambulance. She died shortly thereafter. In the meantime, police were looking for a black woman with a white baby in a blue Lexus.

     Not long after the fatal shooting and abduction, Verna McClain called her sister Corina and told her that she had adopted the baby, and was bringing the infant to her house. After leaving Keegan with her sister, Verna drove off in her blood-splattered car.

     Later that evening, after police officers spotted Verna's blue Lexus parked in front of her Houston apartment, they called in the SWAT team. Verna was not home, but before the officers left the scene, she returned to the apartment on foot and spoke to detectives. About this time, an anonymous tip came in directing the police to Corina Jackson's house.

     At 9:40 that evening, the officers recovered Keegan, unharmed. At the police station, Verna confessed fully to the murder and the abduction. The next morning, the prosecutor charged her with capital murder. If convicted, Verna McClain could be sent to death row.

     The baby is being cared for by his father, Keith Schuchardt.  

     In October 2012, the Montgomery County District Attorney announced that he would be asking for the death penalty at the upcoming Verna McClain trial.


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