Woman arrested during baby abduction investigation speaks out

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- A Paragould woman arrested in connection to a newborn baby being taken from a Kennett hospital is speaking out on what happened and her connection to the incident.

Melissa Howard, 49, of Paragould was arrested last week and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Lt. Tim Trowbridge with the Kennett Police Department said Howard, the baby's mother and the stepmother took the newborn baby out of the hospital then later returned the baby to hospital staff.

"How I got involved in this I have no idea,"Howard said.

She said she had no idea her niece, 28-year-old Amber Trammell, would try to take the baby out of the hospital.

"If I would have known I'm probably sure I would have said something," Howard said. "You don't just take a two hour old baby out of the hospital and run across the state line with it like that, it could have died at any time."

Howard said she stayed at the hospital until about 8:30 p.m. when Trammell's step mom and boyfriend arrived.

"Then I left and went home. I stopped at Burtons in Cardwell before they closed and got a pack of cigarettes, I was home before 10 o'clock," she said.

Then she got word she was listed as a suspect in the case.

"I don't know how my name got drug into it but I've been mortified really," Howard said. "I been locked in jail for a week and Friday they knew that my name was cleared but they had to wait until yesterday morning for a judge to sign the release papers."

Howard said she was released Monday and the charges were dropped.

"My name is cleared, they have dropped everything against me and I am not that person that they portrayed me," she said.

Howard said her mom wrote a 5 page statement to police explaining her whereabouts. The cashier at the store also vouched for her to police.

"I just want everybody to know that I am not that monster that I was portrayed to be," Howard said. "Babies are a God's gift to anyone and after they are born anything could happen to them."

Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Sokoloff said he could not confirm that Howard's charges have been dropped nor on any details of the case.

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