Judge denies lower bond for Shelton

April 13, 2004|GARY MOYERS

STANFORD - The case against a woman accused of kidnapping an infant April 2 from Fort Logan Hospital has been handed up to a Lincoln County grand jury.

District Judge Bill Oliver made that decision Monday at a preliminary hearing not attended by Tanya Shelton, 24, the Lexington resident who faces kidnapping and burglary charges in connection with the disappearance of one-day-old Grayci Barrows, daughter of Samantha Luttrell and Cory Barrows. Shelton's attorney, Ted Dean, said the defendant has the option not to attend a preliminary hearing, and she decided to exercise that right.

Oliver also declined to consider a request by Dean to reduce Shelton's bail from its current $200,000 cash only status. She remains lodged in the Lincoln County Regional Jail.

"Within hours of the baby's disappearance she left this jurisdiction," said County Attorney John Hackley, protesting a motion to lower Shelton's bond. "She was a flight risk then, and she is still a flight risk."


Oliver agreed, and allowed bond to remain as it was originally set.

Must be indicted within 60 days

According to Kentucky law, Shelton must be indicted within 60 days of Monday's hearing or the case can be dismissed. The next Lincoln County grand jury is scheduled to convene May 14. If an indictment against Shelton is returned, she would then be arraigned in Lincoln Circuit Court.

Stanford Detective Rick Edwards was the only witness called to testify during Monday's hearing, and he gave some insight into the events the morning of the kidnapping. Under questioning by Hackley, Edwards said he was notified at 4 a.m. by dispatchers the morning of the baby's disappearance. Upon his arrival at the hospital, he and other officers conducted interviews with the baby's parents as well as hospital employees.

"During my interview with the mother, she told me a woman in blue scrubs came into her room during the night and offered to take the child because it had been fussing," said Edwards. "The mother gave her the baby, and when she asked another nurse later for the child, that's when it was discovered she was missing."

Shelton was a part-time nurses' aide at the hospital and was hired in December 2002. Ephraim McDowell Hospital Foundation vice president of community relations Harry Nickens said earlier Shelton had worked at the hospital only once this year, on March 31, two days before the abduction. The Foundation owns Fort Logan Hospital.

Edwards said a nurse at the hospital, Judy Wells, told him that Shelton had been in the obstetrics ward the previous night even though she wasn't scheduled to work.

"At that time we put out an Amber Alert," said Edwards, referring to the statewide notification system used to alert law enforcement officials that a child is missing.

Luttrell identified Shelton

Edwards said during that time period Shelton's mother, Sherry Emerson, came to the hospital with a photograph of her daughter, and Luttrell identified Shelton as the nurse who had originally taken her baby. Emerson is director of the extended-care program at Fort Logan Hospital.

"From our investigation we determined there were only two or three people working in the ward that night," said Edwards. "The mother made a positive identification of the photograph brought by Shelton's mother. She immediately identified Tanya as the nurse that came in, very confidently, during a photo lineup with Chief Middleton."

Edwards said efforts began to locate Shelton, and Edwards said Middleton was able to reach Shelton through a cell phone number supplied by Emerson. Edwards said Shelton told Middleton she was in Nashville, Tenn., about 30 miles south of Franklin.

She also talked with her mother several times, Edwards said.

During the conversations, Edwards said the FBI and Kentucky State Police attempted to discern Shelton's location using triangulation methods, and at the same time both Middleton and Emerson urged Shelton to turn herself in to police.

Shelton eventually did turn herself in to Franklin police at the Pilot Gas Station off Exit 6 on Interstate 65 in Simpson County, but she did not have the baby with her.

Edwards said the baby was found behind a retail store in Bowling Green by a woman walking her dog. "I believe that happened between 8 and 9 that morning," he said in response to a question from Dean.

Edwards said he and Middleton drove to Franklin to pick up Shelton, sometimes known as Tanya Scholtz, and she was arrested after a warrant was faxed to Franklin from Stanford. Edwards said Shelton had some conversations with police officers during the drive back, and that she was interviewed by public defender Susanne McCollough, of Danville, upon their arrival back in Stanford. McCollough has since withdrawn from the case and was replaced by Dean. Dean asked Edwards about the nature of those conversations with police, but he did not have to answer after an objection by Hackley was sustained.

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