Murder charge after foetus is cut from mother-to-be

Click to follow
The Independent US

A woman accused of killing a mother-to-be and slicing the baby from her womb will face charges of kidnapping and murder in court this morning. She could be executed if found guilty.

A woman accused of killing a mother-to-be and slicing the baby from her womb will face charges of kidnapping and murder in court this morning. She could be executed if found guilty.

Lisa Montgomery of Melvern, Kansas, drove to Skidmore, Missouri, on Thursday where she strangled her victim and cut open her belly with a knife, investigators said. The dead woman, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, was eight months pregnant.

For almost a day, Ms Montgomery, 36, masqueraded as the natural mother of the baby girl, calling her Abigail. Accompanied by her husband, Kevin, she proudly showed the infant off around Melvern before the police caught up with her.

Even as news of the macabre crime sent shudders across the US, reports arose of a disturbing trend of women who are pregnant or recently pregnant being murdered, most often by husbands and boyfriends.

The Washington Post said that 1,367 pregnant women and new mothers had been killed since 1990. In many states, women in this category are more likely to die violently than from natural causes or accidents.

"If the woman doesn't want the baby, she can get an abortion," Pat Brown, a criminal profiler in Minneapolis, told the paper. "If the guy doesn't want it, he can't do a damn thing about it. He is stuck with a child for the rest of his life. If she goes away, the problem goes away."

In Kansas, meanwhile, detectives were still puzzling over what had motivated Ms Montgomery, who has seven children - some her own, some step-children. She had been feigning pregnancy for months and may have suffered a miscarriage earlier this year, they said.

She had been chatting online to Ms Stinnett, who bred terriers, and had set up a meeting at her home, purportedly to buy a puppy. Once there, she overcame the breeder, but stopped short of killing her, which would have put the baby at risk. Ms Stinnett was found in a pool of blood a few hours later by her mother. She was still alive, her abdomen ripped open, but died soon after in hospital.

On the internet, Ms Montgomery called herself Darlene Fisher and posted the e-mail address, fisher4kids@ hotmail.com. Witnesses told police of seeing her red Toyota pick-up outside the Stinnett home. Detectives found the correspondence about puppies on the victim's computer and quickly tracked down Ms Montgomery. After her arrest, she confessed, officials said.

On her return to Kansas, Ms Montgomery headed to a shopping mall and telephoned her husband to tell him she had given birth. Kevin Montgomery has not been charged and may have believed his wife. The couple had both been married previously and had not been able to have a child together.

"Kevin had his proud papa face on, he had an ear-to-ear grin," said Mike Wheatley, a vicar who recalled the couple bringing the baby for him to see on Friday. "It was a beautiful baby." Earlier, they had showed the tot off while having breakfast in a local diner.

The victim's husband, Zeb Stinnett, was with his baby at a Missouri hospital yesterday, where the child was said to be doing well. After naming her Victoria Jo, he said the baby was his "miracle" child.

Comments