UNION, Mo. – The woman accused of slashing a new mother's throat and kidnapping her baby whispered not guilty to the charges and convulsed in sobs during her arraignment Thursday.
Shannon Torrez, in handcuffs, spoke only in hushed tones before the Franklin County court. Her legs shook as she stood to enter pleas to charges of kidnapping, first-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action.
Prosecutors say Torrez, 36, abducted then-7-day-old Abigale Lynn Woods on Sept. 15 after slashing the throat of the infant's mother, 21-year-old Stephenie Ochsenbine. They allege that she tried to pass the newborn off as her own for five days before her sister-in-law became suspicious.
The child was returned to her parents Tuesday, the same day Torrez was arrested.
Torrez remained in jail Thursday. Judge David Hoven denied a request by defense attorney Daniel Briegel to reduce her $1 million bond.
Prosecutor Robert Parks said parents in Franklin County, southwest of St. Louis, might not feel safe if the bond were lowered.
Torrez could face life in prison if convicted of kidnapping.
More than a half-dozen members of Torrez's family, including her husband, brother and sister, attended the hearing but declined to comment afterward.
The sheriff has said Torrez told authorities she had lost her own baby the day Abby was kidnapped, but no stillborn body has been found and investigators were trying to determine whether she truly had been pregnant.
Authorities say Torrez's sister-in-law called authorities after she noticed a strawberry-red birthmark that matched the description of the kidnapped infant. The mark, on the baby's forehead, had been concealed with makeup.