Ashley Bush and the Watermans
Oct. 25, 2022
The Fake Account
Oct. 31, 2022
Nov. 1, 2022
Police Question the Watermans
Nov. 2, 2022
The Memorial Service
Nov. 3, 2022
Nov. 4, 2022
Nov. 9, 2022
Amber Waterman in Court
Nov. 10, 2022
Benton County Charges
Nov. 16, 2022
Missouri Federal Indictment
Nov. 21, 2022
Court Appearance Reset
Nov. 28, 2022
Jamie Waterman's Plea
Dec. 2, 2022
Amber Waterman's Plea
Dec. 12, 2022
Jury Trial Pushed
As the story behind the kidnapping and alleged murder of Ashley Bush continues to unfold, we're taking a look at the timeline of events that led up to the arrests of a Missouri couple.
Background: Ashley Bush and the Watermans
42-year-olds Amber and Jamie Waterman are facing federal charges for the disappearance and alleged murder of Ashley Bush. Bush was 31 weeks pregnant with a baby girl at the time of her kidnapping.
Amber Waterman is charged with one count of kidnapping resulting in death, according to court documents.
Jamie Waterman has been charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping resulting in death. The federal criminal complaint alleges that he helped Amber Waterman after the kidnapping and murder.
Oct. 25, 2022: The Fake Account
Amber Waterman is accused of creating a fake Facebook account under the name of "Lucy Barrows" on Oct. 25, 2022, to lure Bush into meeting her so she could steal her unborn child.
Josh Willis, Bush's fiancé, says the mother of three, soon to be four, had complications in her pregnancy.
"With Ashley being pregnant, she has been having complications with this pregnancy and the doctor took her off work," he said in an interview after Bush was reported missing.
He says that's when Bush started looking for a work-from-home job in a Facebook group for moms.
A few days later on Oct. 28, Bush and Willis met "Lucy" at the Gravette public library to talk about a potential job opening. During that meeting, "Lucy" mentioned she had baby supplies she could give the family.
He says he felt uneasy about the situation.
"She handed Ashley a bunch of paperwork, that they would email her and told her to wait for the boss to contact her for another interview."
The next steps, according to Willis, were for Bush to travel with "Lucy" to Bentonville, Arkansas for an interview with the boss.
Oct. 31, 2022: The Disappearance
Willis told 5NEWS that he dropped Bush off at the Handi-Stop in Maysville, Arkansas on the morning of Monday, Oct. 31. He says he went to pick her up at around 3 p.m. that same day.
The last time Willis says he heard from his fiancé was when he received a text from her saying she was in Gravette and he could come to pick her up.
"All I saw was her and the lady she rode with both pass me, neither one stopped, the driver looked at me and kept going," he said.
Willis says he tried following the truck but lost it heading north on Hwy. 43. He and his family quickly started searching for Bush.
"We tried all night long texting her, calling her, trying to get her to answer," he said.
The family started calling to learn more about "Lucy" and the company she allegedly worked for.
The company told him there is no "Lucy" who works for the company.
On Oct. 31, the family was able to ping and locate Bush's phone. Willis says it was found in a ditch about a half mile away from the location he last saw her in Maysville.
While Bush's loved ones searched for her and answers for her disappearance, Amber Waterman was back in Missouri.
According to an arrest affidavit, Amber told detectives that she had been home all day on Oct. 31 with her son and another child, and she "went into labor" that afternoon.
After calling 911, Amber traveled to meet an ambulance at a store in McDonald County, Missouri. Amber told detectives that she had delivered a stillborn child that evening.
According to KOAM, our CBS affiliate, McDonald County Sheriff Evenson said they responded to reports of a newborn baby not breathing on Monday night. EMS intercepted the couple near Longview, Mo. as they were on the way to a hospital.
A medical helicopter was on standby to take both Amber and the baby to the hospital.
The McDonald County Coroner, BJ Goodwin, was called to take the baby to an area funeral home after EMS was unable to revive her.
According to Goodwin, Amber allegedly had the placenta in her pants when EMS showed up, causing Jamie to think she had the baby.
Goodwin says Amber allegedly refused medical treatment. While the baby was taken to the funeral home, the placenta was retrieved from Amber.
Goodwin later told 5NEWS that it appeared the baby was "cut out" of the mother.
Nov. 1, 2022: Police Question the Watermans
On Nov. 1, detectives met with the Watermans who let them search the home and the tan-colored truck, matching the description of the one Bush was last seen in, according to prosecutors.
When detectives asked for Amber's phone, she told them that she had lost it. She also told investigators that she was the only person who had access to the tan-colored truck that was at the home.
When asked if she had known about Bush, Amber told detectives that she did not know her. When asked about "Lucy Barrows," Amber said that she previously had worked with her at Walmart but they were not close, according to court records.
Also on Nov.1, the Watermans showed up at the funeral home to plan a memorial ceremony for the baby that Wednesday, Nov. 2. Goodwin says they wanted to cremate the baby's remains.
Nov. 2, 2022: The Memorial Service
Goodwin says the memorial service for the baby was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2. He says that morning the Benton County Coroner called asking for a DNA swab from the baby.
He says he was very cautious as it seemed "far-fetched" and the Waterman's family said Amber had already miscarried four times, so they were very "emotionally upset."
Goodwin alleges the Watermans tried to dispose of Bush’s body the same day they showed up for the baby’s memorial service.
"They got cleaned up after burning and disposing her body and showed up for a funeral," Goodwin said.
He says the funeral was exactly what you would expect of parents who lost a child. Goodwin says nothing was out of the ordinary at the time and less than a dozen people were there.
Goodwin says the baby was a "beautiful" girl and that Amber was a "cold-blooded killer" and a "good actor."
According to Goodwin, the Benton County Coroner arrived after the memorial service to take the baby for an autopsy. Goodwin says the Waterman’s demeanor changed when they found out an autopsy would be performed, and Amber allegedly asked multiple times if DNA tests would be performed. He says as soon as Jamie heard that, he “got up and ran out of funeral home.”
“Hands down craziest things I have ever dealt with as a coroner for 16 years," Goodwin said.
Goodwin says the Watermans had named the baby Dakota.
Nov. 3, 2022: The Confession
A vehicle at the Waterman's home was seized by law enforcement and search warrants were obtained on Thursday, Nov. 3, for their vehicle and home. During the search, detectives found what they believed to be blood stains on the inside of the vehicle.
Detectives questioned Jamie again on Nov. 3.
According to the affidavit, he told detectives that, after they had questioned them and left their home on Nov. 1, Amber told him she had killed Bush and then quickly changed her story and said “Lucy” had killed her.
Court records state that Amber led Jamie to the body of Bush, who was lying face down next to a boat near their house, covered in a blue tarp, on Nov. 1
Amber removed a ring from Bush’s finger and rolled her body onto the blue tarp, the affidavit says, which Jamie then dragged to a fire pit behind the home. The Watermans allegedly burned the body, moved it onto the bed of Jamie's blue GMC pickup, and drove a short distance from their home to hide the body.
The Watermans were arrested on Nov. 3.
Nov. 4, 2022: Court Appearance
In court on Nov. 4, the Watermans were assigned a public defender and the federal prosecutor asked the court to hold them without bond until their trial.
Both of the suspects were booked into the Greene County Missouri jail late Nov. 4. They're being held there for U.S. Marshals.
A hearing will be held in Springfield on Nov. 9 for the court to rule on that issue. Until then, they will be in federal custody.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie L. Wan and James J. Kelleher. They were investigated by the FBI, the Benton County, Ark., Sheriff’s Department, and the McDonald County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas and the Benton County, Ark., Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Nov. 9, 2022: Amber Waterman in Court
On Wednesday, Nov. 9, Amber Waterman appeared in federal court in Springfield, Missouri.
The court granted the government’s motion to hold her in federal custody without bond. Officials say the next step is to present the case to a federal grand jury for indictment, but there's no word yet on when that will take place.
At Jamie Waterman’s detention hearing on Nov. 10, the court granted the government’s motion to hold him in federal detention without bond.
Nov. 10, 2022: Benton County Charges
Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith announced on Thursday, Nov. 10, that he is charging Amber Waterman with two counts of capital murder and one count of kidnapping in the abduction and murder of Ashley Bush and her baby.
The announcement was made after Amber Waterman had made appearances in federal court in Missouri. He is seeking the death penalty.
“I also have alleged aggravating circumstances and declared my intention to seek the death penalty," Smith said. After the prosecutor spoke with Bush's family, he said they "supported the decision to seek the death penalty, which is currently easier to do at the state level."
Smith also said Bush's family preferred the case be tried in Benton County so they wouldn't have to travel out of state.
Jamie Waterman has been accused of helping Amber dispose of Bush's body, and hasn't been charged in Benton County due to there not being "clear evidence" that he participated in a crime in Arkansas.
Jamie was charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping resulting in death. The federal criminal complaint alleges that he helped Amber Waterman after the abduction and murder.
Nov. 16, 2022: Missouri Federal Indictment
On Nov. 16, the Watermans were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in the kidnapping and murder of Ashley Bush
Amber and Jamie Waterman were charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Missouri. The indictment replaces separate criminal complaints that charged the Watermans with the same crimes on Nov. 3, 2022.
The two will remain in federal custody.
Amber Waterman is charged with one count of kidnapping resulting in death. The indictment alleges that, between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, 2022, she kidnapped Ashley Bush in order to claim her unborn child as her own.
According to court records, Amber allegedly took Bush from Maysville, Arkansas, to Pineville, Missouri. The indictment alleges the kidnapping resulted in her death.
Jamie Waterman is charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping resulting in death. The indictment alleges that he assisted Amber, in order to "hinder and prevent her apprehension, trial, and punishment," knowing she had committed the kidnapping resulting in the death of Bush.
The two will remain innocent until proven guilty by a federal grand jury.
Nov. 21, 2022: Court Appearance Reset
On Nov. 21, federal authorities would not let Amber appear via video conference for the Benton County charges, so the judge reset her court appearance for February 6, 2023, at 8 a.m.
The judge said if the Benton County prosecutor's office finds out she can appear sooner they will move it up.
Amber is set to appear in federal court for her arraignment and scheduling conference on Dec. 2.
Nov. 28, 2022: Jamie Waterman's Plea
On Nov. 28, Jamie Waterman pleaded not guilty to one count of being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping resulting in death.
His pre-trial conference will happen on Dec. 14 and his trial is set for January 9, 2023.
Amber Waterman is set to appear in federal court for her arraignment and scheduling conference on Dec. 2.
Dec. 2, 2022: Amber Waterman's Plea
On Dec. 2, Amber Waterman pleaded not guilty to charges in connection to the kidnapping and murder of Ashley Bush.
A pretrial conference is set for Dec. 14 and an accelerated jury trial is set for January 9, 2023, in Springfield, Missouri.
Dec. 12, 2022: Jury Trial Pushed
A pretrial conference for Amber Waterman was originally set for Dec. 14 and the federal jury trial was set for January 9, 2023, in Springfield, Missouri.
On Dec. 12, the pretrial conference was vacated and the jury trial was pushed to June 5, 2023.
5NEWS will continue to follow this story as it develops.
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