After Slaying of Tx. Mom and Recovery of Her Kidnapped Baby, Expert Speaks Out on Infant Abductions
"The motivation of these women who want an infant is almost always to preserve a relationship," the expert says
Robert Lowery, the vice president of the Missing Children Division at the Virginia-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says a “stereotypical infant abduction” often involves “a female abductor and the murder of the mother.”
A week after Broussard, 33, and her newborn daughter were reported missing, authorities descended on the Houston-area home of Magen Fieramusca, also 33 — described by a family and friends of Broussard’s as her close friend.
Fieramusca allegedly abducted both mother and daughter on the morning of Dec. 12.
She was charged Friday morning with two counts of kidnapping and one count of tampering with a corpse, according to a spokesperson from the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. Murder charges have not been filed in this case.
Authorities have said Broussard was strangled to death, but final autopsy results are still pending, as are DNA test findings confirming the identity of the baby, who is in good health.
While Broussard’s friend, Vickie Shreves, tells PEOPLE that when she last saw her, Fieramusca told her she was pregnant and due to deliver her baby within a week. Shreves says that, to her, Fieramusca did not seem like someone who was about to give birth.
Speaking generally about child abduction cases, Lowery says, “The motivation of these women who want an infant is almost always to preserve a relationship. They presented themselves as pregnant to a husband or boyfriend who they may be in a rocky relationship with to solidify their relationship, in most cases.”
He says he has reviewed past cases in which the suspect even throws herself a baby shower, knowing all the while she was not pregnant.
Lowery notes that in almost every case where a mother is killed for her baby, the perpetrator is a woman. The babies, once recovered, are often found in good condition.
By and large, these sorts of abductions are always from residences, Lowery says.
Lowery says the fact that Fieramusca is accused of kidnapping Broussard as well as Margot is unusual.
• For more on the slaying of Heidi Broussard and the kidnapping of her baby, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.
“Typically, when we saw infant abductions like this, the mom would simply be murdered and the baby would be gone,” he explains. “When the mom is taken along with the baby, that doesn’t happen quite as often.”
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE’s free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.
Lowery also says that in most cases, the alleged abductor is a stranger.
“Typically, they’re strangers that do this, or someone who knew the woman passively and they would disappear with the child, take the child out of state and raise the child as their own,” he says.
He continues: “It’s usually when the children start getting older that they start questioning this, and some of these cases, they’ve reached out to our center. This circumstance is a little unique because their relationship was close. If there’s any consolation, the baby is alive — but it’s devastating for the family.”