Woman who allegedly kidnapped infant from car has mental health issues

Police in Rochester, N.H., arrested Joanne Shaw Saturday.
Police in Rochester, N.H., arrested Joanne Shaw Saturday. Rochester Police Department

The Rochester, N.H., woman accused of kidnapping a 1-year-old girl from a man who offered her a ride Saturday has mental health problems and recently lost custody of her own 6-month-old son, court records show.

The legal documents were filed in the case against Joanne Shaw, 25, who was arrested in the bizarre incident around 9 a.m. Saturday in Rochester. She pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Monday to charges including kidnapping and resisting arrest and was ordered held on $25,000 cash bail.

Her public defender could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to a police report, a man named Todd Labonte was driving with his infant daughter when he spotted Shaw walking on Washington Street and asked if she needed a ride.


Shaw, who has three prior misdemeanor convictions, entered Labonte’s vehicle and then said she was taking his daughter, who was in the back seat, the report said. A struggle ensued before Shaw exited with Labonte’s daughter, and he gave chase on foot, the report said.

His daughter fell to the ground when he tried to grab Shaw, police said, and Shaw punched the father repeatedly while insisting that the girl “was not safe with him.” Labonte said he does not know Shaw, according to the report. Three eyewitnesses, also strangers to Shaw, provided police with similar accounts of the incident, according to the report.

Shaw was held over the weekend on $5,000 bail at the Strafford House of Corrections.

Her mother told investigators that she “recently obtained temporary guardianship over [Shaw’s] 6-month-old son due to concerns for her declining mental health,” a legal filing said. “The defendant also reports a history of mental illness, and is not currently engaged in services.”

The court filings did not provide additional details about Shaw’s mental health issues.

She is currently unemployed and does not hold a high school diploma or GED, a jail assessment sheet says. The sheet also indicates that Shaw has no documented history of substance abuse.


Globe correspondent Abigail Feldman contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.