Mother who gave birth while evading law enforcement has been captured

Photos: (from left) Leigh Frances Nellesen, Courtney Gail Simpson and Jonathan Franklin

A Boone County woman, who evaded law enforcement for just over a month and in the process gave birth, has been captured.

According to the probable cause affidavit, 25-year-old Leigh Frances Nellesen of Everton was taken into custody Nov. 10, after first escaping from the North Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison in early October.

Nellesen was transported to the Harrison hospital when it was believed she might be in labor. She had been arrested the prior day on a warrant and a theft by receiving charge.

Medical personnel advised Nellesen would be transferred to another medical facility “due to her addiction to heroin and for concern of the unborn child.”

Nellesen was given a medical OR bond and was to return to the Boone County jail once released from the hospital.

Shortly before midnight Oct. 9, Nellesen reportedly escaped from the hospital while waiting to be transferred.

On Oct. 30, law enforcement responded to a residence in Zinc, after a neighbor called advising a female named “Leigh” might have given birth at the residence, and the baby was not breathing well and was pale.

At the residence, officers made contact with Jonathan Franklin who is on felony probation.

During a search of the residence, officers located a makeshift crib, a pacifier and blood on a bed.

Franklin advised Nellesen had been at the residence for a few hours and would call them, if he learned where she was. He also told them Nellesen could be with a couple in Diamond City.

Later that day, officers learned Nellesen was reportedly attempting to trade her baby for heroin.

They followed another lead that Nellesen might be in Marion County, but learned she had left and moved to Zinc. From the lead, a woman took the officers to Franklin’s residence.

Franklin offered to call 30-year-old Courtney Gail Simpson of Harrison, who was with Nellesen and the baby. When he did so, he tipped them off about law enforcement’s presence, leading him to be charged with obstruction of governmental operations.

The baby was ultimately located at a Fayetteville residence, where Nellesen again escaped from law enforcement by fleeing out a window. The baby was taken into the custody of the Arkansas Department of Human Services and transported to a hospital.

No further developments in the case are noted until Nov. 10, when law enforcement learned Nellesen might be with Simpson and another individual in Diamond City.

Nellesen was located hiding under a bed and was observed attempting to escape from a back bedroom before being located.

Both Nellesen and Simpson were taken into custody and denied having narcotics or paraphernalia on them. However, when searched at the Boone County jail, both were allegedly found in possession of meth and heroin.

Nellesen has been charged with

– Third-degree escape, a Class C felony

– Possession of a controlled substance, Schedule II, a Class B felony

– Possession of a controlled substance, Schedule I, II, meth cocaine, a Class C felony

– Possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class D felony

Simpson has been charged with

– Hindering apprehension or prosecution, a Class C felony

– Possession of a controlled substance, Schedule I, II, meth cocaine, a Class C felony (two counts)

– Possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class D felony

Their bonds were set at $50,000.

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