HOUSTON — The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office has positively identified the body found at a Houston-area home as that of missing Austin mother Heidi Broussard. A baby believed to be her daughter was found alive.
The cause of death was ligature strangulation, according to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
A woman has been arrested in connection to Broussard's death, KVUE confirmed on Friday morning.
Broussard, 33, and her baby Margo Carey had been missing since Dec. 12.
KVUE's Tony Plohetski confirmed the Houston woman arrested, who was a "close friend" of Broussard, had been plotting to take her baby leading up to the birth of Margo.
Officials identified that woman as Magen Fieramusca, 33. Authorities told KVUE Fieramusca is tied to Broussard's death and has been accused of taking baby Margo Carey. She was set to be arraigned in Harris County on Friday. Late Friday night, she was booked into the Travis County Jail.
A friend who spoke to KVUE's Bryce Newberry said Broussard and Fieramusca met when they were 11 at church camp. The friend said Fieramusca also goes by the name Maygen Humphrey.
The discovery and arrest comes after around a dozen officers from the Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Public Safety, FBI and Austin Police Department were at the scene of the house in northwest Harris County on Thursday as part of the investigation into the case.
During a press conference on Friday afternoon, officials said when they arrived at the residence on Bo Jack Drive near Jersey Village, they found a person and detained her.
A search warrant was then reportedly issued for the residence and carried out by Austin police and other authorities. That's when detectives found a baby and a dead woman inside a car.
KTRK reported that medical examiners pulled the body from the home shortly after 12 a.m. on Friday morning. KTRK said police initially went to the home because they were interested in a car in the backyard.
Harris County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed it found Broussard's body in a trunk of a vehicle in Houston. Detectives said they also believe the baby found is Margo, but they are waiting for DNA results to confirm that.
Authorities were reportedly able to locate Fieramusca car in the Austin area around the time of Broussard's disappearance. The woman's bond is set at $600,000.
Fieramusca was arrested and charged with kidnapping and evidence tampering. She is expected to be charged with murder, according to KVUE's sister station KHOU. Police believe Fieramusca may have had help.
Fieramusca appeared in court Friday morning for outstanding traffic offenses.
Christopher Green, who owns the property where the baby and Heidi’s body were found, bailed Fieramusca out of jail in Aug. 2018, according to documents obtained by KVUE.
Fieramusca was reportedly with Broussard while she was giving birth to Carey. Law enforcement sources said Fieramusca was also pretending to pregnant at the same time as Broussard.
Officials said they do not think Broussard's fiancé, Shane Carey, was involved in the plot.
The baby is reportedly healthy and in the care of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and in a foster home. The agency is working to "verify possible relatives."
Broussard and Carey were last seen dropping off a child at a southwest Austin elementary school on Dec. 12. Officers believe the two went back to their residence and had not been seen after that.
By Dec. 18, members of the FBI's Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team were in Austin. The team, which has been in place for more than a decade, has about 60 agents from across the country, who have special skills in finding missing children.
Investigators had been divided into teams to help review forensic evidence – including hours of video footage from security cameras throughout the area – and to continue interviewing those who know Broussard.
Austin police set up a designated tip line number for this case. If you have any information regarding this case, call (512) 974-5100 immediately.
KVUE created a timeline of this case starting when Broussard and Carey went missing on Dec. 12.
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