Local News

Kidnapped Baby Found at Fort Bragg, Biological Mom in Jail

Posted July 22, 2007

— An adopted 5-month-old girl allegedly taken at gunpoint by her biological mother in rural Mississippi was found safe Sunday at Fort Bragg.

The woman and her sister were in custody and others were sought in what authorities said appeared to be a kidnapping that sprang from a custody fight.

On Saturday, two women and an armed man wearing masks stormed into Jennifer and Matt Erickson's home in Itawamba County, near the Tennessee and Alabama lines, Sheriff Phil Crane said. They tied up Jennifer Erickson with an electrical cord and fled with the baby, Madison Erickson, leaving another young child of Erickson's behind.

Jennifer Erickson was able to free herself and called authorities.

Authorities soon focused on the baby's biological mother, Jamie Kiefer. They contacted military police at Fort Bragg, where Kiefer's sister Rikki Swann lived before returning to Mississippi when her husband deployed to Afghanistan.

Agents and military police searched the area and found a white van with Mississippi plates near the apartment of Amanda Bell, a friend of Swann's. After obtaining warrants, they raided the home to find Madison, Kiefer, Swann, Bell and her child, Kiefer's 5-year-old son, and two children of Swann's, ages 6 and 1.

The sisters were arrested. Authorities allege that Kiefer took part in the kidnapping and that Swann helped her afterward. Authorities are still looking for a man and a woman they say participated in the abduction.

Madison was examined at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg and turned over to child welfare workers while the Ericksons traveled from Mississippi to North Carolina to retrieve the girl.

"Apparently (the kidnapping) was related to the adoption of the baby," FBI agent Jason Pack said. "Apparently Ms. Kiefer had changed her mind about the adoption."

The Ericksons have had the baby for most of her life, but the adoption was being disputed, Crane said.

"I think this had been in court not too long ago," Crane said. "So this was an ongoing situation."

The Ericksons were unavailable for comment. Crane gave details of the kidnapping and arrest during an afternoon news conference and said he knows little about the adoption.

Bell, who is not accused of wrongdoing, said that Swann had called her late Saturday to ask to visit, but that she didn't know Kiefer and Madison were in her home until agents and military police arrived.

Swann was "hysterical" when she called, saying she had been on vacation in Atlanta and had heard about the kidnapping, Bell said.

"She said I was the only person she knew over here (in the eastern U.S.), and I said, 'Fine,'" Bell said. "We're best friends."

Bell has known Swann since October when their husbands, who are deployed in the same unit, introduced them. She doesn't believe Swann could have participated in the kidnapping.

"I know Rikki, and that woman could not do anything like that," Bell said. "She's like 5-2 and she's a puppy."

Bell was caring for Swann's children Sunday while Swann and Kiefer's parents traveled from Mississippi to Fort Bragg. Kiefer's older child was turned over to the Department of Social Services.

Kiefer and Swann were to be transferred to the Cumberland County jail Sunday to await extradition to Mississippi. Pack said they could face federal kidnapping and related charges in either Mississippi or North Carolina. He didn't expect them to make an initial court appearance until early this week.

The women are from Belmont, Miss., a town of about 2,000 in Tishomingo County, Pack said. He did not have Kiefer and Swann's ages but said both are in their 20s.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • claudnc Jul 23, 2007

    I do believe in open adoptions because they can work. I also beleive that some people can find that to be the only way to go. I just have a hard time with parents giving up all rights within a short amount of time.

  • WifeMomNurse Jul 23, 2007

    To purplerado -at- yahoo -dot- com: What if you found out today that you were adopted as a newborn? That the Mother you have always adored is -what would you call it- a selfish, conniving fake? What makes a Mother? Someone who looks like you? That's pretty self-centered.

    Are you a Mother? Search your soul with this one: You just found out that your darling 3 y.o. daughter was switched at birth & the "real Mother" wanted your baby. Could you so readily give her away to the "right Mother"? If so, then I question your understanding of true Motherly Love.

  • alwaysCool Jul 23, 2007

    I dont know where or why the practice of open adoption was started. But it has created a problem. You have to either decide to totaly give up the child or keep them. To say its open is being selfish

  • purplerado Jul 23, 2007

    I agree with tyyche. People looking to raise someone else's child should be prepared to give the child back if the mother changes her mind and decides she is able to take on raising the child after all. Children belong with their natural parents whenever possible. How evil, to fight a mother for her baby - now THAT'S what I call selfish!

  • Glass Half Full Jul 23, 2007

    This makes me further believe in closed adoptions. The children are safe to grow in a nurturing environment. My BM visited me at the adoption agency before my parents were ever called. Her decision was difficult but I will always respect and love her for it. I have GREAT parents and, by my choice after I became an adult and with the blessing of my mom, I searched for and found my BM and have a relationship with her too. My mom saved all my adoption papers as this is her record of my "birth". I have my own child and she has the additional love of another grandparent and an aunt as well as all the family she was born with. I know it doesn't work out like this for everyone, but if you're meant to discover your heritage I truly feel the doors will be opened to you. If not, accept it and go on, it's probably for the best.

  • Glass Half Full Jul 23, 2007

    Another birth mother gone mad. Due to her actions, case closed. Child has loving stable adoptive parents - leave them be and let them raise the child. Was it another open adoption - how would BM know where to go to kidnap the baby? BM has now shown the nation her level of instability - keep the baby safe. Looks like adoption was the right choice, finalize it and let it be. As with other cases, when the child becomes an adult she can search for her BM is she wants to, if not, oh well, you made your decision, live with it.

  • alwaysCool Jul 23, 2007

    I have seen it both ways. The prospected parents to be having contact with the biological mother for months, driving 9hrs to be at the birth, then on the day they are to take the baby home, the bilogical mother stating she is to keep the baby. The heartache and then receiving a call 3 months later that the mother has changed her mind again. Then also seeing a child placed in the home and brought back because the child in question has too many mix features, all because the adopted family did not want a child that would be darker then they were. Even if they child and they were both of they same race.

  • Sunne Jul 23, 2007

    Most women have at least nine months before delivery to decide if they wish to keep the baby or give it up for adoption. I do not agree that this is decided in a couple of days. However, once the decision is made, the mother must abide by the law. I cannot imagine how they thought they could get away with kidnapping...it's logical to look at the birth parent(s) first in this type situation.

  • alwaysCool Jul 23, 2007

    I did not say for the child to stay in foster care, that the on open adoption, mother should have the right to change her mind up to 90 days.

  • just my2cents Jul 23, 2007

    Why on earth should a baby be put into foster care for 2-3 months why the mom decides whether or not she wants to baby? That baby needs to bond with her parents, whoever they will be. When women decided to give their baby up, they normally do not do it hours after birth, they do it during pregnancy. It's all usually selfishness when they decide they want the baby back.