SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana woman was charged with murder, kidnapping and criminal confinement Monday after police say she duped a new mother into believing she was a child-welfare worker, stabbed the woman to death and stole the infant to pass off as her own.
Madison County prosecutors filed paperwork in Circuit Court on Monday charging Geraldine Jones, 36, of Gary in the death of 23-year-old Samantha Fleming of Anderson. Police Sgt. Chad Boynton said Monday afternoon police had not yet been in contact with Jones, who police say is being treated in Texas for depression.
"We are making preparations to initiate conversation just as soon as possible," he said.
Fleming said authorities in Texas had taken precautions to make sure Jones can't leave the hospital.
Police investigating Fleming's disappearance on Friday found her body in Jones' home in Gary, about 165 miles northwest of Anderson. When police arrived Fleming's 3-week-old daughter was being held by Jones' sister, who told police she had been caring for her sister's child while her sister was in Texas. Police determined the child was Fleming's and the baby was returned to relatives in Indianapolis.
Authorities say they believe Jones got Fleming to travel to northwest Indiana by telling her she worked for the Indiana Department of Child Services and she needed to attend a hearing. Indiana State Personnel Department spokeswoman Ashley Emsweller Hungate said no one named Geraldine Jones or with the name of her sister has ever worked for DCS.
Police believe Jones may have faked being pregnant, telling family she was expecting twins.
Boynton said police don't know how the woman was able to convince Fleming she worked for DCS, but he said Fleming did have previous contact with DCS. "So therefore the ploy that the suspect used to get her to leave Anderson and head to Lake County may have been more believable in her mind," he said.
Police say a woman called Fleming's mother before she disappeared and said she was with DCS and was seeking information about Fleming and her daughter. Police said the woman provided legitimate names of DCS employees and implied she was familiar with Fleming's case history.
DCS spokesman James Wide said he couldn't comment on whether Fleming had a DCS case because of privacy laws. Wide said DCS is leaving the investigation into how the woman may have tricked Fleming into thinking she worked for DCS up to police.
"There's nothing internally being initiated from it, but we definitely will comply with law enforcement and help them where we can," he said.