Local woman fakes pregnancy, kidnaps newborn baby

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

UNION COUNTY, Ill. - Monday, investigators filed formal charges against a woman accused of swiping a newborn.

Neighbors said they are shocked 44-year-old Karen Casper Nichols faked her pregnancy and preyed upon their good hearts to help.

Union County deputies arrested Nichols Friday night and Monday charged her with aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery.

Information from the Union County State's Attorney's office and court documents shows Nichols kidnapped a newborn baby boy and robbed the child's mother, Lindsey McHughs, at knife-point. Documents show Nichols also took two cell phones from McHughs.

They later arrested Nichols at her home and returned the child to its mother.

Neighbors said they thought Nichols was pregnant for months, and she even had a baby shower thrown for her.

Bruce Nagel can't believe his tenant Karen Nichols is charged with kidnapping a baby. After all, he and his wife Carolyn assumed she was pregnant.

"She had a small baby bump, but it didn't look like she was going to have a baby," he said.

Nichols kept her landlords updated, even sending Carolyn Nagel ultrasound pictures.

Back in May, Nichols posted on a community exchange Facebook group, looking to buy a baby swing for a girl.

She said she was due in seven weeks and later told Carolyn Nagel she was expecting a boy.

"We assumed she was going to have her baby this week like she said," said Bruce Nagel.

The couple found out the pregnancy wasn't legit when they saw deputies swarming their rental property this weekend. Nagel said he always tried to help Nichols out because she said she didn't have a car.

"I gave her rides to the store on occasion when she didn't have a way to get there," he said.

Now he and his wife are stunned.

"I was absolutely blown away. That kind of thing doesn't happen around here," said Carolyn Nagel.

Karen Nichols will be in Union County Circuit Court for her first appearance Tuesday morning.

Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds would not comment Monday on any part of the investigation or how the kidnapping took place.

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