Texas mum allegedly strangled in close friend's plot to steal newborn
A missing mother was allegedly strangled by close friend who'd hatched a plot to steal the Texas woman's baby girl months before she was born.
Magen Fieramusca was arrested after a body believed to be missing mother Heidi Broussard was found crammed in the boot of a car in Houston on Thursday.
Fieramusca, reportedly a childhood friend of Ms Broussard, has been charged with kidnapping and tampering with a corpse after allegedly taking the mother-of-two and her newborn daughter, Margot Carey.
Police said an infant girl was found unharmed inside the Houston home, almost 200 kilometres from where the two were allegedly snatched from on December 12.
Early signs indicate it is Margot however DNA tests are underway to confirm her identity.
Friends told ABC affiliate KVUE Ms Broussard met Fieramusca at church camp at the age of 11 and that the pair had been close friends.
Another friend told People Fieramusca was even present for Margot's birth.
She is believed to have been planning the alleged kidnapping for months.
Police said the charges against Fieramusca will likely be upgraded as the investigation advances.
"It is heartbreaking circumstances that bring us here today," Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at a press conference Friday.
"Everyone (was) hoping for an outcome different than the one that appears we had, and that is with the loss of life.
"And although we are grateful that it appears as though we have safely recovered bay Margot, again, we do believe that Miss Broussard lost her life in this incident."
Baby found in Houston area
Ms Broussard and her newborn daughter were last seen about 7.30am on December 12, dropping Broussard's six-year-old son off at a primary school.
Authorities believed she returned home with the baby before disappearing.
Over the past week, investigators with local, state and federal agencies have interviewed family and friends, executed search warrants and followed-up on tips from the community, Austin police Detective Brad Herries said.
Police were eventually led to a home in the Houston area where the newborn was found.
Father's impassioned plea
The father of Broussard's children, Shane Carey, pleaded for their safe return last week, telling KEYE that he'd last spoken to Broussard at about 8am the day they vanished.
Speaking through tears, Mr Carey said that when he returned home from work, Ms Broussard and their daughter were nowhere to be found.
He said that he received a call from the school that Broussard had not picked up their son, so he went to collect him.
"I went and picked up my son, and she wasn't home again, so then that's whenever I just called the police," Carey told the station.
He said nothing was out of place at the home, and he pleaded with the public for help.
"I love you, just please come home. We miss you.
"If you see an awesome mum with a baby walking around or in a suspicious van or car or anything that looks suspicious, just please give somebody a call," he said.
"Everything is at the house…everything. The baby's stuff, nothing is gone except for her and the baby."
Broussard's parents told KEYE their daughter would not have left without taking her son, too.
"As far as her leaving on her own accord, no," David Broussard said. "You can't make me believe that in a thousand years."
The couple travelled from Louisiana to Austin when they heard that Heidi and their granddaughter were missing.