MARYVILLE, Mo. - A baby girl who had been cut out of her mother’s womb was found after a frantic search, and authorities arrested the woman they say strangled the mother and stole the child. The baby was in good condition Saturday.
The child was found Friday at an eastern Kansas home. A red Toyota similar to a description given earlier by police was in the driveway.
Lisa M. Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kan., was arrested later Friday and charged with kidnapping resulting in death.
Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, was found Thursday in a pool of blood inside her small white home in Skidmore, a town in northwest Missouri.
Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, had earlier been talking with her mother on the phone, and hung up saying a woman she had chatted with online had just arrived at her door, authorities said.
U.S. Attorney Todd Graves said Montgomery contacted Stinnett through an online message board, and authorities zeroed in on her using computer forensics. Montgomery was seeking to buy a dog from Stinnett, who raised rat terriers, he said.
Stinnett, married for little more than a year and expecting her first child, worked at an engine factory in nearby Maryville. Her husband was at work when she was killed, authorities said.
The baby was named Victoria Jo and was united with her father, Zeb Stinnett, late Friday, Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center in Topeka said in a statement Saturday on its Web site. She was listed in good condition at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.
Zeb Stinnett called the girl “a miracle.”
“I want to thank family, friends, Amber Alert and law enforcement officials for their support during this time,” Stinnett said in the news release.
Montgomery is the mother of two high school-age children, but Graves said she had been pregnant with another child that was never born.
It’s unclear when she lost the baby or under what circumstances, but the complaint said she had lied to her husband about giving birth. Graves declined to give a motive for the crime.
According to the criminal complaint, Montgomery traveled about 40 miles to Topeka, Kan., on Thursday to go shopping. Her husband received a call from her saying she had gone into labor and given birth.
Kevin Montgomery and the couple’s two children met Lisa and the newborn at a parking lot in Topeka and drove home, according to the affidavit.
The next day, authorities say, Montgomery confessed that she strangled Stinnett from behind, cut her open, removed the baby and cut her umbilical cord. She also admitted that she lied to her husband about what happened.
DNA tests positively confirming the child was the Stinnetts’ were pending.
“We’re confident we have the little girl that was taken from Skidmore,” Nodaway County Sheriff Ben Espey said.
The grisly slaying shocked neighbors in the towns where the two women lived.
“They’re very normal country people,” said Sandra Bullock, 45, who lives about a mile down the road from the Montgomerys. “It’s too hard to believe.”
Stinnetts’ neighbor Bill Dragoo was equally surprised.
“It blows my mind that this happened,” he said. “She was such a shy person. They didn’t deserve this.”
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Sheldon Lyon said the investigation was continuing. He would not say if additional charges might be filed or if there were other suspects.
Several pregnant women have been killed in recent years by attackers who then removed their fetuses, in some cases to pass the children off as their own.
In one of the most recent cases, a 21-year-old woman was shot to death in Oklahoma in December 2003, allegedly by another woman who pretended the 6-month-old fetus was her child. The fetus died and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.