Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Couple Files Lawsuit in Alleged Childbirth Decapitation Horror

Delivery room. Photo: Getty Images.

After conceiving via in-vitro fertilization, St. Louis couple Arteisha Betts, 21, and Travis Ammonette, 20, were looking forward to the birth of their baby boy, who they’d named Kaden Travis. As Betts’ pregnancy progressed, the baby began to develop abnormally — his abdomen was growing unusually large.  According to the complaint filed in September, Dr. Susan Moore of Midwest Maternal & Fetal Medicine Services, LLC, a clinic specializing in complicated pregnancies, had told the pair during an appointment that the baby would need to be delivered via cesarean section. When Betts began having contractions at 28 weeks, a different obstetrician, Dr. Gilbert Webb, refused to perform a c-section and would not allow them to go to a different hospital. According to the complaint, “Believing she had no other choice than to agree to a trial of vaginal delivery, plaintiff Arteisha Betts consented to a trial of vaginal delivery under duress and protest.”

The complaint states that the infant’s head was delivered vaginally, but his enlarged abdomen was stuck in the birth canal. Dr. Webb was able to get one shoulder and arm out, and while trying to pull the rest of the baby out, separated his head from his spine. According to the complaint, this hideous scene unfolded “approximately 2 to 4 feet” away from the horrified Travis Ammonette. And it gets worse: “when defendant Webb separated decedent Kaden Travis Ammonette’s head from his cervical spine, blood from the arteries and veins in decedent’s neck shot out, splattered and/or spilled out into the labor and delivery room in plain view of and in close proximity to plaintiffs Arteisha Betts and Travis Ammonette.”

At that point, states the complaint, Webb pushed the partially decapitated fetus back into Betts’s birth canal and announced that a cesarean section was finally necessary. He allegedly made an incision in Betts’ abdomen before she was given anesthesia, and, during the course of the procedure, “surgically and completely removed” the head from the fetus’s body. The suit sums up that Kaden Travis Ammonette “suffered an untimely and agonizing death.”

Betts and Ammonette are seeking punitive damages for wrongful death, medical negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress from Dr. Susan Moore, Dr. Gilbert Webb, Midwest Maternal & Fetal Medicine Services, LLC, and Signature Medical Group Inc. St. John’s Mercy Hospital, where the March 22, 2011, incident took place, is not listed as a defendant in the suit.

Below is the complaint in its entirety.


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