2 indicted; charges added in assault on pregnant teen

? A Jackson County grand jury has added more charges to those already faced by two women accused of kidnapping and assaulting a pregnant teenager as part of an alleged plot to steal her baby, authorities announced Friday.

The Jackson County prosecutor’s office had charged Lauren M. Gash, 20, of Odessa, and Alisa D. Betts, 17, of Atchison, Kan., with kidnapping in late July. Gash also was charged with one count of assault.

The grand jury returned indictments this week charging Betts with assault and felonious restraint, both felonies. Gash is now charged with an additional count of assault and one count of felonious restraint, both felonies.

Amanda Howard, the victim, also made her first public statements on the case Friday and said she would not comment on the attack itself. But she said the episode has left her anxious and distrustful.

However, her son, Ethan Damon Howard, was born Aug. 1, two days after Howard was attacked in a suburban Kansas City motel. Ethan “is healthy and doing well,” Howard said.

Howard allegedly met Gash over the Internet after posting a request for baby items. Authorities allege that Howard met the two defendants in Clinton in late July, thinking they were going provide her with free clothing for her baby due the next week.

Instead, authorities say, Howard was driven to a Blue Springs motel, bound and gagged. Howard told police that Gash sat on her and twisted her neck in a way that made Howard think that Gash was trying to kill her.

Police think Betts got scared, left the room and called 911. Officers were sent to the room to check on a report of a pregnant woman screaming.

Police became suspicious after noticing pink duct tape around Howard’s neck. Howard told police she had been held against her will. Gash was taken into custody and police later found Betts and arrested her.

Police found rope, duct tape, a drop cloth, scissors and a utility knife in the motel room.