Neighbour murders pregnant woman to steal unborn child

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The Independent US

Michelle Bica was desperate to have a baby. So desperate she told friends, neighbours and her husband she was pregnant when she wasn't. So desperate, that when her fictitious due date loomed, she lured a pregnant neighbour to her house, shot her in the back, cut her baby out of her and passed the boy off as her own.

Michelle Bica was desperate to have a baby. So desperate she told friends, neighbours and her husband she was pregnant when she wasn't. So desperate, that when her fictitious due date loomed, she lured a pregnant neighbour to her house, shot her in the back, cut her baby out of her and passed the boy off as her own.

Almost incredibly, the ruse worked for a few days. Then, as police identified her as the last person her victim had spoken to and moved in for an arrest, she killed herself. The body of the murdered woman, 23-year-old Theresa Andrews, had been buried beneath the dirt floor of the Bica garage.

Yesterday, the small blue-collar town of Ravenna, Ohio, was struggling to come to terms with the bizarre and brutal events that ripped away its orderly, law-abiding veneer. The 8lb 6oz baby, now with his father and grandparents, has been named Oscar Gavin, as his mother wanted.

"The family is devastated, just devastated," said Louis Myers, a family friend. "I don't think this has all sunk in yet."

Police say Ms Bica first contacted Ms Andrews to express interest in a second-hand Jeep on the victim's front lawn. A week ago, she lured Ms Andrews to her house to discuss a sale. She shot her with a single bullet in the heart, then sliced open her abdomen horizontally with a knife, and removed the baby.

"It was not a professional job," said Roger Marcial, the county coroner. "The cut was not where it was supposed to be [if a Caesarean section had been done]." He believes the act took no more than seven minutes, quick enough to safeguard the baby's health but raising the possibility that the killer had an accomplice.

Ms Bica and her husband, Thomas, told neighbours she had delivered her child on her way to hospital. He proudly handed out cigars, and friends brought round casseroles and packs of nappies. Some neighbours were suspicious about Ms Bica's "pregnancy" and the lack of change in her appearance. But she was short and overweight, so it was hard for them to tell with certainty.

Pamphlets and flyers had been distributed after Ms Andrews vanished. Police spent four days searching telephone records and found Ms Bica's number. When they moved in to arrest her on Tuesday night, Michelle Bica locked herself in a bedroom and shot herself.

She suffered a miscarriage last year and, at 39, feared she was getting too old to have a baby. Her story bore a resem-blance to the child-snatching comedy Raising Arizona. She met her husband, a prison guard, while serving time for stealing $10,000, and got out by pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

Thomas Bica swears he was taken in by his wife's pregnancy story. Police say he passed a polygraph test. One neighbour, D J Pinkley, said: "Either he's really dumb, or really smart."

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