ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Alaska mother implicated in infant's disappearance
A woman who reported her baby missing is accused of orchestrating the disappearance, which triggered Alaska's first fully initiated Amber Alert.
Elisa LaCroix, 20, is charged with making a false abduction report. In January, she was charged with falsely accusing an ex-boyfriend of raping her close to her due date.
LaCroix was out on bail on the earlier case when she was arrested Sunday after 3-week-old Ethan LaCroix was found unharmed at Fort Richardson in the custody of Amelia Cameron.
No charges are planned against Cameron, who told police she didn't know her friend would file a false report.
LaCroix claimed she put Ethan in his crib near an unlocked window Saturday night, but police Lt. Dave Parker said she actually handed him to Cameron through the window.
Ethan's father, Kaid LaCroix, checked on the baby an hour later and discovered he was gone.
The couple are divorcing and Elisa LaCroix feared her estranged husband — a soldier based at Fort Richardson — would take the baby before his pending deployment, Parker said.
Army Lt. Col. Jonathan Allen said Kaid LaCroix is among soldiers from the Anchorage-area post being sent to Afghanistan in current deployments.
Parker said LaCroix intended to hide her son with her friend until her husband's deployment.
"The estranged husband was the reason she was doing all this scheming and hiding this child, so he could never have been let in on it," Parker said.
Elisa LaCroix was terrified her husband would follow through with threats to take away Ethan and that she would never see the baby again, said her attorney, Rex Butler. He said his client has been on house arrest, wearing an ankle monitor, and wanted to put her child in a safe environment until her husband left the state.
"This was an act of desperation by a mother who knows she's already in trouble," Butler said. "She's young and under lots of pressure right now and, quite frankly, made some mental errors in judgment. This was not a malicious act."
There is no telephone listing for Kaid LaCroix in the Anchorage area.
Elisa LaCroix reported the purported disappearance as an abduction and implicated the ex-boyfriend, Cole Rothacher, as a suspect. She also had named him in the false rape report, Parker said.
In that case, LaCroix accused Rothacher of beating her and raping her at knifepoint, then "staging the scene," according to Parker. Rothacher — also a Fort Richardson soldier heading to Afghanistan — was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence sexual assault, but was ultimately exonerated by the police investigation.
LaCroix is charged with making a false police report and tampering with evidence in that case. She has pleaded not guilty but has not yet been scheduled for trial, Butler said.
Police interviewed Rothacher in the false abduction case and determined he was not involved in that either, Parker said.
LaCroix also is charged with violating conditions of release and is being held at the Anchorage jail on $2,000 bail. Butler said his client will plead not guilty to the new charges.
Parker said the false-abduction case prompted the first full Amber Alert in Alaska. Another case was initiated last year but was canceled soon after when the child was found.