HENDERSONVILLE — An Asheville mother whose 7-week-old baby was found crying in a steep, heavily forested ravine is expected to be transferred from county jail to a facility in Chapel Hill to undergo a specialized mental health evaluation.
Krista Noelle Madden, 35, could stay at the the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders for weeks, attorney Sean Devereux said.
The facility is the first of its kind in the U.S., according to its website, opening in 2011 to offer a five-bed inpatient unit for women with moderate to severe postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders.
A consent order will need to be signed by a judge before she is transferred to the facility. Henderson County District Attorney Greg Newman said he has anticipated from the beginning of the case that Madden's legal team would request an evaluation.
Newman said he agreed to her transfer because she will remain in custody under a secured bond.
"I have no problem with that and I don't think a judge would, either," he said.
Madden will be evaluated at UNC center
Police say Madden, a Biltmore Park resident and mother of two, staged a kidnapping of herself and her newborn daughter, Shaylie. The baby later was found about 30 feet down a ravine between Edneyville and Chimney Rock.
Madden is being held on a $750,000 bond on an attempted first-degree murder charge. Pending the outcome of the evaluation, Madden will not seek a reduction in the secured bond, according to a draft of the consent order.
Devereux, one of two attorneys representing Madden, previously said he wanted his client to be evaluated by mental health professionals for postpartum depression or possibly postpartum psychosis.
Madden will be transported by the Henderson sheriff's office to Chapel Hill. She'll be taken back to county jail once authorities are notified that her evaluation has been completed, the consent order said.
The newborn, who was transported to Mission Hospital by an ambulance after she was located, now is with her father and Madden's husband, along with an older sibling.
Transcripts of a 911 recording obtained by the Citizen Times show a relative who also lived in Biltmore Park reported May 9 that Krista Madden sent text messages claiming she and her baby had been abducted.
When asked by the operator whether Madden had any known mental health issues, the caller said Madden recently had a baby and was "a little down."
Warrant: Madden admitted leaving baby
The report launched a search for the mother and baby, along with her grey Mazda SUV. Madden and the vehicle were separately located in eastern Henderson County.
She told sheriff's deputies that she had been taken by gunpoint by a white male and white female in their 20s to 30s, according to a search warrant returned May 15. Police issued a description of two suspects wearing ski masks.
About two hours later, property owners found the baby after hearing cries from the ravine near their driveway. Shaylie was wearing a pink onesie that said "I love my mommy," residents Scott and Cheryl Fowler told the Citizen Times. A car seat was nearby.
The search warrant says that during an interview with detectives, Madden admitted to driving the car, "placing" the baby on the ground, tossing the car seat and leaving.
Among the items authorities seized from the vehicle were a purse, fingerprints, DNA swabs, a car seat base, a dash camera and a white baby blanket, according to the warrant.
Madden's next court appearance is a probable cause hearing set for May 28. She also is represented by Jason Blackwell of Hendersonville.
'This is not someone's fault'
Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, founder and director of the UNC Perinatal Psychiatry Program, said the inpatient unit provides state-of-the-art treatment that can include a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
A patient's length of stay can vary, she said. Patients diagnosed with postpartum depression stay an average of two weeks. Those with postpartum psychosis can stay more than two weeks.
Because postpartum psychosis is a medical emergency, most are treated with medication, Meltzer-Brody said. She called the illness "absolutely devastating," saying the symptoms come quickly and sometimes before others can realize their loved ones are suffering.
Postpartum screening also is inconsistent, Meltzer-Brody said.
"You can't even imagine the shame and the horror that all women face when they recover from (postpartum psychosis)," she said.
"This is not someone's fault. This is a biological illness that's certainly more rare, but it is well-documented. It is highly associated with infanticide or attempts, and it is a medical complication just like, unfortunately, any medical complication that is serious."