Women Who Kill: Part Two
Obsessed with Babies
Even as people watched Scott Peterson be convicted for the murder of his pregnant wife and their unborn son, the news came from Missouri on December 16, 2004, that another pregnant woman had been killed. This story, however, was much more macabre. Bobbi Jo Stinnett, 23, was eight months pregnant with a baby girl. She had met a woman, Lisa Montgomery, on an Internet message board and possibly at a dog show, and had apparently arranged to meet. Little did she know that Montgomery had targeted her because she was pregnant.
Montgomery allegedly met Stinnett in her Skidmore home, where she strangled her to death and removed the baby from her womb. She then took the baby from Missouri to Kansas, where she hoped to pass the child off as her own. In the meantime, Stinnett was found lying in a pool of blood in her home. She had been speaking with her mother on the phone and had told her that a woman whom she'd met on the Internet had just arrived. Later that day, Stinnett's mother discovered her, barely alive, and called the police. Paramedics arrived, but failed to save her. The medical examiner indicated that she had been cut open laterally to facilitate removal of the baby. The umbilical cord had been cut, and Stinnett was clutching strands of blond hair in one hand.
A delayed Amber Alert was called to expand the search 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 a fake name, Darlene Fischer (screen name Fischer4kids), and who was ostensibly seeking to purchase a dog from Stinnett, who was knowledgeable about rat terriers.
A tip phoned in by someone who saw a Honda resembling the one the authorities were seeking helped to establish that the killer had fled to Kansas. On the following day, authorities located the child in good health in Melvern, Kansas, and arrested Montgomery. DNA tests confirmed that the child was the Stinnetts'. Zeb Stinnett, the baby's father, was allowed to take her home. He named her Victoria Jo.
Montgomery, 36, had deceived her husband, who was not charged. The mother of two high-school-age children, Montgomery had supposedly lost the child she was carrying (or so she told people). On the day of the murder, she had called her husband from Topeka to say that she had given birth while on a shopping trip there. He drove to meet her, little suspecting that the child not only did not belong to him, but had been allegedly removed from a murdered woman. Montgomery actually showed the infant around to people at a bank, alerting one woman to notify the police because the infant was obviously premature. Montgomery 's former husband, who was in the process of seeking custody of their two children, told reporters for the Associated Press that Montgomery had often sought attention by pretending to be pregnant, but she'd had her tubes tied 14 years earlier.
She was charged with kidnapping resulting in a death and held in prison. Hers was the eighth such incident recorded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children since 1983. Such crimes are generally committed by women using a confidence scam. They usually have a history of deception (Montgomery did), and they tend to develop a relationship with a "predetermined target." In 2002, a study was published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences on kidnap by Cesarean section. The study found that those who committed such crimes were self-centered, obsessed with babies, and tended to live in a fantasy world, but were not considered psychotic. They often fail to think ahead to the questions they'll be asked or about practical matters such as birth certificates.