Authorities have arrested a woman they allege came to the home of an eight-months-pregnant woman - purportedly to buy a dog - then strangled her and cut the baby from her womb. Authorities found the abducted infant in good health, ending a day of frantic searching.
According to a criminal complaint, Lisa M. Montgomery admitted she strangled Bobbie Jo Stinnett and took her baby. The complaint also said Montgomery lied to her husband about giving birth, although US Attorney Todd Graves declined to give a motive for the crime.
Stinnett's mother found the 23-year-old nearly dead on Thursday in her northwest Missouri home. Paramedics tried to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The baby was found on Friday in an eastern Kansas home; a red Honda hatchback matching a description offered earlier by police was in the driveway.
Although DNA tests were pending to confirm the baby's identity, authorities called off the Amber Alert issued for the child.
"We're confident we have the little girl that was taken from Skidmore," Nodaway County Sheriff Ben Espey said during a news conference in Maryville. FBI agent Rick Thornton said the father has been reunited with the baby.
Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kansas, was charged with kidnapping resulting in death, Graves said.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Sheldon Lyon said earlier in the day that authorities were questioning a man and a woman who were in the place where the baby was found.
A woman charged with killing an expectant mother and cutting the baby from her womb was showing the child off to people at a cafe and to her pastor hours before she was arrested, residents said Saturday.
Lisa M. Montgomery, 36, was charged with kidnapping resulting in murder and was expected to appear in federal court Monday. The baby, whose mother had been eight months pregnant, was in good condition.
Hours before her arrest, Montgomery and her husband showed off a newborn girl at a restaurant, said Kathy Sage, owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe.
Many customers were surprised to hear the infant was only a day old, Sage said. She knew an Amber Alert had been issued for a baby missing from Missouri but did not realize the Montgomerys' infant was connected until hearing from a reporter on Friday.
"You read about this stuff," she said. "It blows you away when it's here. This stuff is supposed to be in New York City or Los Angeles."
Montgomery was arrested later in the death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was found Thursday in a pool of blood inside her small white home in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore. Montgomery's husband, Kevin, has not been charged in the case.
Authorities said Montgomery contacted Stinnett through an online message board, and investigators zeroed in on her using computer forensics. Montgomery was seeking to buy a dog from Stinnett, who raised rat terriers.
While the couple ate breakfast, another customer showed the baby off around the cafe. After eating, they took the girl to visit their pastor.
"It was a beautiful baby," Mike Wheatley said. "Absolutely beautiful."
The pastor had not seen the couple since October, and everyone in the congregation was expecting her to give birth around Dec. 12.
Jeff Lanza, an FBI spokesman in Kansas City, Mo., declined to discuss motives and said the investigation is ongoing.
He would say only that Montgomery was being held in Kansas and is expected to make her first appearance in federal court Monday, though authorities do not know whether it will be in Missouri or Kansas.
The baby girl, named Victoria Jo, was in good condition Saturday. Several family members, including her father, had been reunited with her at a hospital late Friday.
The infant was in good condition Saturday in an intensive care unit. Hospital officials said she was responding normally for a baby taken from the womb one month premature.
"She's doing well," said Carol Wheeler, a spokeswoman for Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center.
The family was not speaking to reporters, but the child's father, Zeb Stinnett, issued a brief statement calling the child "a miracle."
"I want to thank family, friends, Amber Alert and law enforcement officials for their support during this time," he said.
U.S. Attorney Todd Graves said Montgomery contacted Stinnett through an online message board after seeing a Web site about rat terriers that Stinnett bred and raised. The site included a picture of Stinnett, showing she was pregnant.
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 was unclear when she lost the baby or under what circumstances, but the complaint said she had lied to her husband about giving birth.
According to court documents, Montgomery traveled to Topeka on Thursday to go shopping. She called her husband from there, saying she had gone into labor and given birth.
Kevin Montgomery and the couple's two children met Lisa and the newborn in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Topeka and drove home, according to an affidavit.
The arrest stunned many townspeople who apparently had believed for months that Lisa Montgomery was pregnant.
How "could you not know that your wife's not pregnant?" said Gary Deskins, owner of a convenience store in Malvern, a community of about 420 residents about 30 miles south of Topeka. "There's something missing."
yeah this has been in all the newspapers and on tv all over. That is sick and crazy and they should fry the witch.I dont buy the fact that her husband didnt know and thought she really gave birth to the baby while he was at work.
Some people are definitely crazy these days. I also don't buy the fact the husband didn't know his wife was pregnant. How could you not know if you live with this person 24/7.
This woman definitely has some sort of mental problem to do something like that to another human being. I say overlook the mental problems and give her what she deserves and I don't mean a life sentence.
Even if she had fooled him up until the point where she had supposively "given birth," wouldn't he have found it a little strange that he was only contacted AFTER the baby was born? His wife, no one from the hospital, ever bothered to call the father of the child? And then that she decided it would be best to meet him not at the hospital, but at a fast food parking lot??? "Here's your new daughter, have some fries!"
This happened in my "back yard". Lisa Montgomery was married once before and her husband divorced her because she was a pathological liar. She would constantly tell lies (of all nature) to friends and then in order to save face, the family would move. This went on for years. To top it off, she had a tubal ligation years ago and could not get pregnant.
In this case, she first told people she was pregnant, then told people she lost the baby at 6 months, then when she showed up at her local restaurant that evening with a newborn, told people that she had been pregnant with twins and only lost one of them at 6 months.