Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Fetal Snatchers

Prenatal Predator

One of Bobbie Jo's Prize Rat Terriers
One of Bobbie Jo's Prize Rat Terriers

She had met Lisa Montgomery on an Internet message board about dogs and they had exchanged emails about Bobbie Jo's prize rat terriers. Montgomery expressed an interest in seeing the puppies at the Stinnett home, and Bobbie Jo was happy to find someone else with a fondness for these dogs. She invited Lisa, who was using a false name, to come over. Little did Bobbie Jo know that Montgomery had no interest in her dogs; she had targeted Bobbie Jo because she was pregnant. She had even baited her with photos of rat terriers, posted on a message board a few days before their meeting. It was clear, in retrospect, that she had covered all her bases in the pursuit of stealing Bobbie Jo's baby.

Lisa Montgomery
Lisa Montgomery

On the afternoon of December 16, Montgomery arrived at the Stinnett's home, driving 170 miles from Kansas. It is not known if she made a pretense of appraising the puppies or got right down to business, but at the point at which Montgomery thought she had an advantage, she struck from behind, strangling Bobbie Jo with a rope and then slashing her belly open with a kitchen knife to remove the baby. The child was a girl.

Montgomery fled, taking the child with her back to Kansas, where she hoped to convince her husband, children, and friends that she'd just given birth. She called her husband from the road to tell him, and he apparently accepted this development without question. In the meantime, Bobbie Jo was found in a pool of blood.

That morning, Bobbie Jo had been on the phone with her mother and had told her that a woman had just arrived from Fairfax, Missouri, whom she'd met on the Internet. They ended their conversation. Becky gave this information to the police. They went through the neighborhood as well, to ask residents what they'd seen.

The medical examiner indicated that Bobbie Jo had been cut open laterally to facilitate removal of the baby without harming it, and the umbilical cord had been cut. In Bobbie Jo's hands were strands of blond hair, indicating that there had been a struggle before she died. In fact, there were blood splotches all over the room, as if the perpetrator had had a difficult time subduing Bobbie Jo. This, too, supported the possibility that a woman had been involved.

After some bureaucratic problems, an Amber Alert was called to expand the search for the missing baby across state lines, while detectives versed in computer forensics examined Stinnett's e-mail. They soon determined the identity of her likely attacker, who was using the name Darlene Fischer (screen name Fischer4kids) and was ostensibly seeking to purchase a puppy. That rang true with what Becky Harper had reported. Neighbors told investigators that a dirty red Honda had been parked at the house that day, so they included this information in the bulletin. They hoped that someone out on the road had seen it. There was no telling what this brutal kidnapper might do.