Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Fetal Snatchers

Obsessed with Babies

The news came from Skidmore, Missouri, on December 16, 2004, that a pregnant woman, Bobbi Jo Stinnett, 23, had been murdered. Expecting a baby girl in mid-January, she'd been the victim of a deranged woman with a bizarre obsession. While it's not the only such incident, this one became international news.

Bobbi Jo Stinnett
Bobbi Jo Stinnett

At 3:30 in the afternoon, Bobbie Jo's mother, Becky Harper, drove onto the dead-end street where Bobbie Jo lived with her husband, Zeb. They'd been married just two years and were about to have their first child. Becky noticed the door slightly ajar, which concerned her. It was too cold for that, especially since Bobbie Jo was pregnant. She went inside to look around, and as Diane Fanning reported in Baby Be Mine, she found her daughter on the floor, literally butchered. Bobbi Jo was barely breathing and it looked to Becky as if her intestines had exploded. As Becky called 911, she tried to revive her daughter with the dispatcher's instructions, but it was too late. Bobbie Jo expired before she arrived at the hospital. She had been murdered, apparently to kidnap her unborn child.

Stinnett Home
Stinnett Home

M. William Phelps also wrote about this story in Murder in the Heartland, although both authors published their books before legal issues surfaced and the trial had begun. The chief suspect had made a confession, but the investigation was still active. Phelps came at the story from a different angle as he spoke with Carl Boman, the ex-husband of the perpetrator, gaining an advantage when Boman offered to say all that he knew about his controlling, mentally unstable wife.

Lisa Montgomery
Lisa Montgomery

Lisa Montgomery, the suspect, had been telling people she was pregnant with twins, but had miscarried one of them. She acquired an ultrasound photo from the Internet to show people "her" baby and even told them her expected due date in December. She had purchased a number of items, as any expectant mother would do, and had set up a nursery in her home.

Yet, as Phelps and several reporters point out, it was not the first time she'd claimed to be pregnant, and on those other occasions, she'd never produced a baby. She'd even bloated her stomach convincingly in a hysterical pregnancy, but in the end she could not sustain the ruse. (Some women are able to swallow air to simulate the hardness of a pregnant belly.) One never knew what to believe with Lisa Montgomery. In fact, Boman knew that after their fourth child, she'd had her tubes tied to prevent having more children, so why she was parading this pregnancy was anyone's guess. Lisa's mother would say she was simply desperate to have a baby.

So desperate, in fact, that she was willing to plot a murder and carry it out. She'd put an elaborate plan in motion, had picked her victim, and had decided just how she would get the baby and bring it home. Bobbie Jo had no idea that day what was coming.


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