Looking back: Verna McClain killed mother and stole her baby

Friday, December 22, 2017
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Verna McClain was sentenced to life in prison for killing Kala Golden-Schuchardt and stealing her baby in 2012

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Why would a woman kill a mother and take her baby? Experts say often times it's not maternal envy or a desire for motherhood, but an attempt to hold on to a husband or boyfriend.

That was the case in April, 2012, when Verna McClain shot and killed Kala Golden-Schuchardt who was in the parking lot of her pediatrician's office with her newborn son.

McClain took Kala's baby but was arrested hours later.

Investigators and McClain's relatives said she had a miscarriage and was desperate to find a baby to pass off as her own, to her boyfriend who thought she was pregnant.

McClain, a former nurse, avoided a possible death sentence by pleading guilty in 2013 and accepting a sentence of life without parole.

Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said he had promised Golden-Schuchardt's family that McClain would die in prison either by lethal injection or by never being free again. "It's the right verdict for the family, and Kala," Ligon said. Golden-Schuchardt's mother, Linda Golden, said she was pleased McClain never would get out of prison but added, "I'll never be over the pain of losing my daughter."

One of her attorneys, Tyrone Moncriffe, said McClain is remorseful. "It was a tragedy," he said. "She just feels sorry for the family."

Her defense team also included George Parnham, the lead attorney for Andrea Yates, the suburban Houston woman charged with drowning her five children in 2001. Yates was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison, but her conviction was overturned on appeal. In 2006, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a mental hospital. Parnham and Moncriffe said Tuesday they did not pursue a similar defense for McClain because they could find no evidence of insanity and no history of mental illness.

Authorities said McClain was waiting outside a pediatrician's office north of Houston. Witnesses said she repeatedly shot Golden-Schuchardt, then grabbed the child from her truck and drove away. According to witnesses, the dying woman leaned into the vehicle and tried to take back her son, Keegan, screaming, "My baby!" but McClain sped off.

Later in the day, two detectives spotted a vehicle outside a nearby apartment complex that matched witnesses' descriptions. McClain later showed up at the apartment, and in their conversation, detectives learned of McClain's sister and where the child could be.

The abducted child was returned to his father.

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