Alleged Mother's Day child abductor facing over 2 dozen outstanding charges

·3 min read
Nicole Shanks was arrested by Ottawa police on May 9, 2021. (Facebook - image credit)
Nicole Shanks was arrested by Ottawa police on May 9, 2021. (Facebook - image credit)

The woman accused of abducting an eight-day-old newborn from his parents on Mother's Day faces a long list of outstanding charges in Ottawa dating back to 2017.

Nicole Shanks, 32, appeared briefly by phone at the Ottawa courthouse Friday afternoon to face 10 charges stemming from the incident on May 9.

At the time, Ottawa police charged her with three counts of administering a noxious substance for allegedly bear-spraying three people, abducting the baby, break and enter for allegedly forcing her way into the home, harassment for allegedly watching the house, and assault.

Police also charged Shanks with possession of a weapon, assault with a weapon and carrying a concealed weapon. In addition to the bear spray, child abuse investigators also allege she had a hammer in her possession at the time of the offences.

Police allege Shanks met the mother in a social media moms' group, offered her a free gift basket and then went to her home to abduct the baby.

Melissa Armstrong and Nicholas Freda say they're forever grateful to the people who helped rescue their newborn son after he was abducted from their Ottawa home in a brazen kidnapping on Mother's Day.
Melissa Armstrong and Nicholas Freda say they're forever grateful to the people who helped rescue their newborn son after he was abducted from their Ottawa home in a brazen kidnapping on Mother's Day. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

'Bear-maced in the face'

Melissa Armstrong, 31, previously told CBC News she connected with a woman on a Facebook group about free giveaways for moms in the Ottawa area. When the woman arrived at the home, Armstrong said she knew something was wrong.

"I got bear-maced in the face," Armstrong said, describing how, after being sprayed, the woman pushed her out of the way.

"We wrestled. I tried to keep her away from my son." During the struggle, the woman claimed she was the child's actual mother, according to Armstrong.

Armstrong, who was still recovering from a caesarean section, said she was nearly blinded by the bear spray. Her neighbour Bobby Emmerson and his teenage son started after the woman and rescued Armstrong's son.

Outstanding charges

Shanks has outstanding charges throughout the region.

Shanks, whose last known address is in Shawville, Que., has a criminal record in that province.

In June 2019, she was charged with obstructing a peace officer and impersonating another person. The impersonation charge was ultimately withdrawn. Shanks pleaded guilty to obstructing an officer and was sentenced to a fine and a year of probation.

In April 2020, she was charged with failing to comply with an undertaking. She pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a fine.

Prior to moving to Shawville, she lived in Kanata South in Ottawa. In 2019, she was charged in Ottawa with breaking into two law firms, stealing cheques, then forging lawyers' signatures and attempting to cash cheques worth more than $16,000.

In 2017, Shanks was charged with shoplifting three times from a Kanata Walmart, stealing from a Hazeldean Road Shoppers Drug Mart and shoplifting from St. Laurent Shopping Centre's Game On.

She also faces three counts of failing to appear in court. Shanks is next scheduled to appear in court on June 17.

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