7-Week-Old Shaylie Madden Survives Being Thrown into a 75-Foot Ravine by Her Own Mother

Shaylie Madden, undated photo
(Henderson County Sheriff’s Office)

“Before God and those assembled here, I solemnly pledge;
To adhere to the code of ethics of the nursing profession;
To co-operate faithfully with the other members of the nursing team and to carry out faithfully and to the best of my ability the instructions of the physician or the nurse who may be assigned to supervise my work;
I will not do anything evil or malicious and I will not knowingly give any harmful drug or assist in malpractice.
I will not reveal any confidential information that may come to my knowledge in the course of my work.
And I pledge myself to do all in my power to raise the standards and prestige of the practical nursing;
May my life be devoted to service and to the high ideals of the nursing profession.”

Krista Madden graduating from nursing school in 2013

That is the “Practical Nurse Pledge,” a modernized version of the Florence Nightingale Pledge, and has been recited in some form for decades at pinning ceremonies, which are symbolic welcoming rites of newly graduated nurses into the medical field. Chances are good that Krista Noelle Madden, 35, of Asheville, North Carolina took a similar pledge when she graduated from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah with a Master’s degree. Essentially, it’s the nurse’s version of the Hippocratic oath taken by doctors, and it boils down to the same premise: Do no harm.

Unfortunately, Krista, who worked until recently as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), seems to have forgotten her pledge, not to mention her sacred duty as a mother to protect her offspring, because she has been charged with attempted murder after faking her own kidnapping, pitching her 7-week-old daughter, Shaylie Quinn Madden, into a ravine, and leaving her for dead.

Jesse and Krista Madden in 2015

Full disclosure: This may very well be a case of postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis. However, I’m holding off on feeling even a speck of sympathy for this woman — not because I’m insensitive to mental illness, but because such issues don’t come out of nowhere. There are always signs. If she was indeed suffering from some type of postpartum mental illness, Krista had to have known something was wrong, and even if she was too far gone, someone around her — her husband, Dr. Jesse Madden, for example, who is a cardio-thoracic surgeon and therefore must have a fairly well functioning brain in his head — must have seen the red flags flapping wildly in the breeze before Krista flung little Shaylie into a ravine. I mean, really.

Krista Madden and her older daughter, Treya Charlotte Madden (age 3) in 2018

This insane story began when authorities received a 911 call at around 4:30 PM on Thursday, May 9, 2019 from an unidentified caller reporting the possible kidnapping of Krista and Shaylie Madden from their home in Asheville. The caller reported a silver 2014 Mazda may have been involved. While searching for the pair, police pinged Krista’s cell phone to an area in Henderson County. Around 5:40 PM, a call came into Henderson County’s 911 line reporting an abandoned silver Mazda on a gravel road with its hatch open. The car was found at a nearby bamboo farm, where owner Keigi Oshima told news station WLOS that he found a baby seat thrown outside the car. Shaylie was nowhere to be seen.

Krista Madden

Sheriff’s deputies came upon Krista walking on a country road not far from the abandoned car, which was later determined to be Krista’s car. Krista claimed she escaped her captors, whom she described as a red-haired male and a black-haired female, both thin and wearing ski masks, but they still had Shaylie, who was wearing a pink onesie with white stripes. Authorities and two tracking dogs dispatched to search the area near the car found nothing, according to Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin.

Cheryl and Scott Fowler

Meanwhile, around 8:00 PM the same evening, Henderson County 911 received another call, this one from a man named Scott Fowler, who lives on a heavily wooded property near Chimney Rock. Scott, a heavy equipment operator, reported that about halfway down their steep gravel driveway, his wife Cheryl heard a baby crying. Scott immediately descended into the ravine abutting their driveway.

Scott Fowler shows news reporters where he found Shaylie

“I thought, I’m just going to go down there and get that young’un out of there,” Scott told WLOS. At the time, the Fowlers had no idea an urgent search for a kidnapped seven-month-old girl was in process. Despite the dangers posed by the steep incline and snakes indigenous to the area, Scott pressed on through the underbrush until he found little Shaylie about 30-35 feet down. “Luckily, she had rolled under a rock, and her head and shoulder were downhill. Her feet were uphill,” Scott said. Shaylie had scratches on the back of her head, her forehead, her arm, and her leg; she also had dirt around her eyes, according to the Fowlers. “But as soon as I held her, she stopped crying,” Scott said. “I was just thankful she was all right.”

How could a child so clearly loved end up at the bottom of a ravine just seven weeks later?

“It’s just a shame someone can discard something so beautiful and sweet that easy,” Cheryl Fowler told WLOS. “Just throw it over a bank and hope it dies.”

“There’s surrender stations right here in Edneyville. Even our house,” Scott added. “We’ll take a baby, no question. That’s all she had to do.”

No kidding. Bless you, Scott and Cheryl Fowler. Because of you, Shaylie survived an ordeal that could easily have led to her death from exposure, snake bite, or any number of lethal means, all thanks to the woman who was meant to protect her at all costs. Ugh.

Krista Madden
(Henderson County Sheriff’s Office)

Krista was arrested and charged with first-degree attempted murder. The sheriff’s department reported Krista is being represented by defense attorneys Sean P. Devereux of Asheville and Jason G. Blackwell of Hendersonville. Shaylie was taken to a local hospital and is in “very good condition,” according to Griffin. He said Buncombe County Social Work Services is involved in the case.

Krista Madden

“It’s by the grace of God that we’re standing here with a child that’s been discovered and is alive,” Griffin said during a press conference announcing Krista’s arrest. Regarding Krista’s kidnapping tale, Griffin said, “We don’t believe that to be factual at all.”

Krista, who apparently acted alone and whose motive for the alleged hoax and attempted murder of her daughter is unknown, is being held on a $750,000 bail pending her next court appearance at her probable cause hearing on May 28th.

Sean Devereux, one of Krista’s attorneys, hopes to get Krista evaluated by mental health professionals so she can be treated for either postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis. “Right now we’re not trying to get an evaluation for the purposes of a defense,” Devereux told the Citizen Times. “We’re trying to get her some help.”

Left: Sean P. Devereux / Right: Jason G. Blackwell
(dblawoffices.com / Carr Blackwell & Associates)

According to Maj. Frank Stout of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Krista “was placed under direct supervision/observation of our staff but not placed in the area nor the type of clothing of a person on suicide watch.”

Sean Devereux
(Citizen Times)

Devereux said both attorneys and family members want Krista evaluated and treated as soon as possible. “At this point, we haven’t sought to get the bond reduced because we really want to get her into a facility.” He explained that placement in a facility needs to be secured before bond could be reduced. When asked if Krista had shown signs of depression before attempting to kill her daughter, Devereux replied, “Not depression so much as she’d sort of been stressed.”

(Sort of… stressed?!)

“She was not getting any sleep, and there were complications; the new baby just had some sort of cosmetic surgery, nothing serious, but it’s been tough,” Devereux said. “She’s had her hands full.” He continued, “Everybody said she was a wonderful mother to the older child and was doing fine with this kid. So, it just kind of came totally out of the blue.”

(Which is it, Mr. Silver Tongue? Kind of or totally?)

According to Devereux, both of the Madden children have been examined by health professionals, and neither has any indications of abuse or injury. Other than, y’know, Shaylie’s injuries from being thrown into a treacherous, heavily wooded chasm by her mother.

Krista, Treya, and Jesse Madden in 2018
Henderson County District Attorney Greg Newman
(Citizen Times)

Regarding Krista’s current charge of attempted first-degree murder, Henderson County District Attorney Greg Newman told the Citizen Times, “It could always change. The next step is to get the case in a posture so it can be presented to the grand jury.” First, the prosecutor needs to determine if Krista is competent to stand trial. Newman said she “seemed to be reasonably competent when she was in court this past Friday.” As for whether she could be found not guilty by reason of insanity, Newman added, “That’s a different analysis, and so different doctors will be brought in on that.” Ultimately, that verdict would be decided by a jury.

Side note: according to Krista’s Facebook, much of which is public, she and Jesse will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary on June 6th. Silly Krista; the generally recognized 10-year anniversary gift is tin, aluminum, or diamonds, not faking a kidnapping and trying to murder your newborn baby. Easy enough to mix those up, I suppose.

(Source photo of Shaylie: Facebook; meme: me)

My Verdict: We could be looking at a case of postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis here, but the one thing that gives me pause is Krista’s big, fat fabrication about the alleged kidnapping, which points toward her knowing that what she was doing — namely, trying to kill Shaylie — was wrong and taking steps to cover that up. Only time will tell if a grand jury will recommend indictment and where it will go from there. Stay tuned for updates.

Click here for more of my coverage on Shaylie’s case.

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