A 25-year-old New Hampshire woman and mom to a newborn son, is accused of trying to kidnap a stranger’s 1-year-old girl after he offered to give her a ride.
Joanne Shaw, of Gonic, was arrested Sunday morning, July 22, by Rochester Police, the department said in a press release.
The incident happened after a 52-year-old man stopped to offer Shaw a ride as she was walking down the street, police said. Shaw and the man did not know each other previously, according to police.
Police have not commented on a possible motive for the kidnapping attempt.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Shaw Unbuckled the Baby’s Carseat, Broke the Man’s Car Key in Half & Ran Off With the Girl as the Car Came to a Stop, Police Say
Officers were called to Washington Street about 8:40 a.m. Sunday for a report of a disturbances, Rochester Police said in a press release. A 52-year-old man told police that he was driving down the street with his 1-year-old daughter when he “saw a female walking in the roadway, prompting him to stop and ask if she needed a ride,” police said.
“A male driver had stopped to pick up a female passenger who looked like she was in need,” Captain Jason Thomas told WMUR-TV.
According to police, Joanne Shaw said “yes,” she needed a ride, and got into the car.
“The male and Joanne did not know each other prior to this interaction. Joanne told the male she was going to take his daughter and made attempts to unbuckle the 1 year old, prompting a struggle to ensue,” police said.
Thomas told WMUR that Shaw was telling the father that she was going to take the girl as she tried to unbuckle her, which led to the struggle.
“As you can imagine, him trying to stop this lady from taking his daughter while also trying to pull over,” Thomas told the news station.
Police said in the release, “Joanne then grabbed for the male’s car keys and broke the vehicle key in half. As the vehicle came to a stop, Joanne was able to take the 1 year old and fled the vehicle on foot with the child.”
She told the father, “I’m taking your child,” prosecutors say.
2. She Is Also Accused of Punching the Dad Twice as He Tried to Get His Daughter Back & Resisting Arrest
Shaw ran off with the girl after the car came to a stop and the 52-year-old father began chasing her, Rochester Police said.
The man “caught Joanne, who then punched him twice. Officers arrived on scene and attempted to detain Joanne, who resisted. The child was returned to the male, unharmed,” police said.
According to court documents, the man’s daughter fell to the ground when he tried to grab Shaw, and Shaw then began punching him while telling the father the girl “was not safe with him.”
“He’s OK,” Captain Jason Thomas told WMUR-TV. “Just minor, minor injuries to him.”
A friend of the father posted on the Rochester Police Facebook page that the man is “severely sore” after the incident.
Other Rochester residents posted on the police Facebook page that they also had interactions with Shaw on Saturday.
One man wrote, “this is the lady that came out in traffic to ask to drive my car! … she was buggin.”
A woman said, “I drove right by her yesterday. She tried flagging me down, but didn’t stop. Thank god!”
Another woman wrote, “Wth just saw her at rite aid 2 days ago she looked a little wacked she walked up to me an said u look beautiful could i borrow ur phone i handed it to her she looked at it then said oops I forgot her number have the phone back an said it’s been a day…. I was like umm ok sorry I couldn’t help an she walked off.”
3. Shaw Started a GoFundMe Account in June, Saying She Needed Money to Help Pay for Her 8-Week-Old Son’s Medical Bills
Joanne Shaw is the mother of newborn son, according to her Facebook page.
Shaw recently lost custody of the child because of mental health issues, the Union Leader reports.
She created a GoFundMe account in June, asking for $8,000 in donations to help with her son’s medical care, but the fund has not received any donations.
“New mommy of an amazing, little boy whom has stolen my heart from the first sonogram, needs a bit of help to provide the only thing that’s missing(a vehicle),” Shaw wrote.
“Alot of love for my son & yern (sic) to give him the best care- he deserves…so pride could even stand in sight when trying to procure an essential component for me to provide that, we need help. & any bit big or small adds up to our hearts warm & full knowing there are kind gentle generous souls out there that have helped us along our path … to happy & healthy would be greatly appreciated.”
She said on the page that her son has the rare Thompson’s disease form of myotonia congenita , a genetic disorder affecting muscles.
“In individuals with Thomsen disease, symptoms and findings such as myotonia, associated muscle rigidity, and abnormal muscle enlargement may become apparent from infancy to approximately two to three years of age,” according to RareDiseases.org. “In many cases, muscles of the eyelids, hands, and legs may be most affected. Thomsen disease is transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait.”
On the page, Shaw wrote, “As a new mommy, completely enamored w/my son with everything that he is/ I am for him & we are, he’s a happy boy it just breaks my heart to see him strain so hard to poo when he needs to it, breaks my heart.”
She added, “Doctors knowledgeable about this rare neuromuscular condition, are hard to locate because there aren’t many. Every one of his needs are met with love, stimulation,& care its just mommy needs means of transportation to get us to those hard to find doctors.”
4. She Was Charged With Domestic Violence-Related Assault & Trespassing, Along With Drug Charges, When She Was 18
Joanne Shaw has three previous misdemeanor convictions, the Boston Globe reports.
According to a 2010 article on Fosters.com, Shaw was arrested as an 18-year-old while living in Dover. She was charged with criminal trespass, domestic violence related, simple assault, domestic violence related and a possession of drug paraphernalia violation, according to the report.
The arrest occurred on April 16, 2010. The outcome of that case and further details about the incident were not immediately available.
5. Shaw, Who Has Mental Health Issues, Was Held on $25,000 Bail After Appearing in Court
Shaw is being held on $25,000 bail at the Stafford County House of Corrections after making her first court appearance on Monday. A judge raised her bail from $5,000.
Prosecutor Joachim Barth told Judge Mark Howard they have uncovered “unsettling bizarre and objectively dangerous facts” while calling for a high cash bail, the Union Leader reports.
She has been charged with kidnapping, two counts of simple assault, criminal mischief and resisting arrest or detention, police said.
Kidnapping is a class A felony in New Hampshire, which carries a sentence of between 7 to 15 years in prison. She faces up to a year in jail on each of the simple assault counts, which are class A misdemeanors and a fine on the additional charges, which are class B misdemeanors.
Shaw made her first court appearance, for her arraignment, on Monday at the Strafford County Superior Court, police said. It is not clear if she has hired or been appointed an attorney.
Her mother said in court documents that she has “recently obtained temporary guardianship over [Shaw’s] 6-month-old son due to concerns for her declining mental health,” the Boston Globe reports.
“The defendant also reports a history of mental illness, and is not currently engaged in services,” according to court documents obtained by the Globe. The documents do not detail her mental health issues. Prosecutors also said Shaw is unemployed and does not have a high school diploma or GED. She does not have a documented history of substance abuse.