Vancouver woman appears in court in baby-selling case

Judge sets bail at $50,000 at her first court appearance

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: July 18, 2011, 6:13 PM

 

A homeless woman accused of trying to sell her 3-day-old baby at a Hazel Dell Taco Bell restaurant reportedly asked for bids for the newborn, according to court documents filed Monday.

A woman at the fast-food restaurant at 6700 N.E. Highway 99 called 911 Thursday evening, reporting to police that the defendant, Heidi L. Knowles, 36, offered to sell her son for a price between $500 and $5,000, according to court documents.

The woman, who said in court that she goes by Heidi Knowles, was arrested that evening on suspicion of attempted child selling-buying, a Class C felony, and several outstanding warrants.

Shielding her face from TV cameras, Knowles made her first appearance Monday morning before Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis.

Citing her lengthy criminal history, including domestic violence assault and drug possession charges, Lewis set bail at $50,000.

Knowles also goes by Heidi Gasaway, her former married name. She was divorced in Clark County in 2001.

The judge appointed defense attorney Gerry Wear to represent her and set arraignment for July 29.

A lone friend attended the Monday court hearing in support of Knowles. Though she asked that her name not be used, the friend told reporters that Knowles was going through a divorce and thought she may have been suffering from postpartum depression.

According to court documents, Knowles is unemployed. She told investigators she had been living at Kay’s Motel on Highway 99 with her newborn until she could find a shelter. When questioned by investigators, she denied having any substance abuse or mental health problems. She said she had been clean from methamphetamine for more than a year.

She lives off $540 a month in welfare and food stamps, according to court documents. She moved here from Florida three months ago, she told officers.

A sheriff’s deputy who responded to the Taco Bell and questioned Knowles wrote in a report that she appeared under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to court documents.

The deputy said Knowles approached the woman in the restaurant, handed the newborn to her and offered to sell him to her.

Deputies found Knowles at the motel with the infant, who appeared to be in good health. They called for officials with Child Protective Services, who took custody of the baby.

Deputies declined to reveal the baby’s name and didn’t know who the father is.

A no-contact order was issued Monday, barring Knowles from contact with her son, who was born July 11.

Knowles is being held in the Clark County Jail. Besides the charge, she’s in custody on previously issued arrest warrants from Benton County, charging bail-jumping, possessing drug paraphernalia and theft.