A mother and daughter have been charged with making up a story about seeing a man throwing a baby into a river on Christmas Eve, touching off a massive search.

Holly Fowler, 42, and Kristine Fowler, 23, were charged with misleading a police investigation and filing a false police report.

The women, who live near the Merrimac River in Haverhill, about 35 miles north of Boston, told police at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday that they saw and heard a distraught man throw a baby into the river from a bridge, then leave the scene with an empty baby carriage, police Capt. Robert Pistone said.

Local and state law enforcement took part in the search, which included divers and a state police helicopter, Pistone said.

The search ended at about 10 p.m. when police determined the report was a hoax.

Pistone said police had not established a motive.

Holly Fowler was ordered held on cash bail and her daughter was released, police said. Both were expected to be arraigned Monday in Haverhill District Court.

A phone listing for the women could not be found and it was not known if they had an attorney.

Of the large Christmas Eve search, Pistone said: "It's part of the job."