'She died trying to save her baby': nurse admits shooting mother, abducting baby

When Verna McClain suddenly showed up with a three-day-old boy, she told her sister she was planning to adopt the newborn.

Now she's accused of taking the child by force.

Authorities believe McClain picked a new mother at random outside a pediatrician's office, fatally shot her and grabbed the baby from her arms.

The 30-year-old Houston woman was charged on Wednesday with capital murder. Police say she admitted carrying out the attack and abducting tiny Keegan Golden, who was found unharmed hours later with McClain's sister.

"I don't understand that, her taking a child," her estranged husband, Theo McClain of San Diego, told The Associated Press. The couple had two children together and raised a third from a previous relationship of his.

"That doesn't make sense. We have three kids. And then to shoot somebody? I've never known her to hurt anybody."


Investigators said McClain's statements included information only the shooter would know and indicated she attacked the mother on Tuesday as part of a wider plan to kidnap any child and that Golden was simply a convenient target.

Deputies found the boy with Corina Jackson, McClain's sister. Jackson told Montgomery County investigators that McClain told her she would need to "do the adoption," according to police records.

Sometime after the shooting, McClain approached police at an apartment complex where detectives found a vehicle matching the description of witnesses and offered information about the case. But McClain did not say where the child was, said Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon.

Instead, authorities received an anonymous tip that directed them to Keegan's location somewhere in Harris County, which includes Houston. McClain was then arrested at the apartment complex and later confessed to authorities, Ligon said.

She was being held without bail.

It remains unclear who lived at the Harris County home where Keegan was found, Ligon said.

That doesn't make sense. We have three kids. And then to shoot somebody? I've never known her to hurt anybody.

The baby has been returned to family members, according to Keith Schuchardt, who said he had been married to Kala Golden for three years.

He told the Houston Chronicle that he learned of the shooting because as Golden lay dying, she asked another woman to call him and explain the attack.

Asked by reporters what he would tell his wife now, Schuchardt said, "I wish you were here with me to get me through this."

Schuchardt told the AP that officials were initially concerned about his criminal record, which includes felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance and burglary of a coin-operated machine.

On Tuesday, witnesses reported an argument broke out between Golden and another woman as Golden left Northwoods Pediatric Center in Spring, about 20 miles north of Houston.

During the confrontation, the woman repeatedly shot Golden, then snatched the child from her and drove away, according to witness accounts. The dying woman leaned into the vehicle and tried to take the boy back, screaming, "My baby!" but her attacker sped off.

McClain is a vocational nurse, a job that involves providing basic nursing services under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. She does not work at the pediatric center, according to a clinic receptionist, Jackie Longoria.

McClain, who has vocational nursing licences in both California and Texas, has not faced disciplinary action in either state, according to licencing boards.

Golden's mother, Linda Golden, told the AP that she had been baby-sitting when someone at the scene called her using her daughter's mobile phone. She rushed to the clinic but was unable to see her daughter because paramedics were trying to save her.

"I wanted to kiss her before they put her in the ambulance," Linda Golden said.

Linda Golden said she had no idea what could have sparked the slaying and abduction.

"That's the hardest she's ever fought," she said. "She died trying to save her baby."