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Texas nurse accused of killing new mom lied to fiance, police say

This news story was published on April 19, 2012.
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By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times –

HOUSTON — A licensed vocational nurse shot a young mother and kidnapped her newborn son outside of a pediatrician’s office near Houston after lying to her fiance about having delivered his child, authorities said.

“She needed to justify that she had a child to her fiance,” said Montgomery County Sheriff’s Capt. Bruce Zenor at a briefing Wednesday.

Verna McClain, 30, of Houston is accused in Tuesday’s fatal shooting of 28-year-old Kala Marie Golden. McClain was charged with capital murder Wednesday, and a judge ordered her held without bond in Montgomery County jail.

Investigators said McClain took 3-day-old Keegan after she suffered a miscarriage but never told her fiance.

“She told him she was pregnant and had given birth to a child by him,” Zenor said.

McClain is black; Golden was white. Zenor said McClain’s fiance is not white, and it was unclear how she intended to pass the baby off as her own.

Before the shooting, Zenor said, McClain had cased Northwoods Pediatric Center in Spring, Texas, about 25 miles north of Houston, a place she knew well, having taken her two children there for treatment.

But he said McClain did not know the victim.

“This was a random choice,” Zenor said.

Shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, Golden emerged from the doctor’s office after taking her son for a check-up and buckled the child into her truck. She then got into a fight with a woman who was parked next to her, witnesses told investigators. Detectives were still unclear late Wednesday about what prompted the fight.

The woman shot Golden several times before taking her son from the truck and fleeing, investigators said. Based on an autopsy Wednesday, investigators said they could determine only that Golden had been shot multiple times.

Based on witness accounts, investigators located the woman’s blue 2007 Lexus about a mile and a half away at an apartment complex. There, McClain eventually approached them saying she was trying to help, but her story unraveled.

“Throughout the interview it started to fall apart,” said Montgomery County Sheriff’s Detective John Schmitt.

McClain confessed to the shooting and kidnapping, according to her arrest report. Investigators searched her house and recovered a gun, although they would not release further information about it Wednesday.

“She does appear remorseful for what happened,” Schmitt said of McClain.

He said McClain led detectives to the missing newborn, who had been dropped off at her sister’s Houston apartment. The sister told investigators McClain had claimed to have adopted the baby. Investigators reunited the newborn with his father, and were still trying to determine Wednesday who dropped the baby off.

Zenor said it is “very possible” someone else may be charged in connection with the shooting.

McClain’s two children were being cared for by a relative Wednesday, Schmitt said.

McClain, a Berkeley native, moved to the Houston area two years ago, Schmitt said, and worked for a nurse staffing agency based in Houston.

Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said Wednesday that it’s too early to say whether McClain is mentally ill or whether he plans to seek the death penalty.

McClain was being held alone at the jail but was not under suicide watch, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Norris said. She is scheduled to appear in district court Thursday morning, Ligon said.

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