Stolen Fetus Recovered, Police Say
By MARGARET STAFFORD, AP
SKIDMORE, Mo. (Dec. 17) -- A baby girl who apparently was cut from her mother's womb was found in good health Friday, a day after the slaying, and two people were in custody, authorities said.
Sheriff Ben Espey said authorities were awaiting DNA testing to confirm the newborn is the child of Bobbi Jo Stinnett, 23, an eight-months-pregrant factory worker found slain in her Missouri home Thursday. The child was found in neighboring eastern Kansas, state Bureau of Investigation spokesman Kyle Smith said.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Sheldon Lyon said authorities were questioning a man and a woman who were in the same place as where the baby was found. A red Honda hatchback matching a description offered earlier by police was in the driveway of the home.
Espey believes Stinnett was likely strangled and resisted the attack. Authorities hoped that strands of hair found in the dead mother's hands will help find the killers.
''The autopsy is going to show us there was some blond hair probably found in her hands,'' the sheriff said. ''That would also help us with the DNA.''
Doctors said the baby could have suffered a variety of traumas during the assault, including a lack of oxygen. But the girl could likely survive if treated.
''Ninety-five percent are going to do pretty well given a modest amount of medical attention,'' said Dr. Perry Clark, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at The University of Kansas Hospital.
Espey said there was no indication of forced entry into Stinnett's small white home in this community of about 500 in the northwest corner of Missouri.
A neighbor, Bill Dragoo, said Stinnett and her husband raised dogs and ''didn't bother anybody. It blows my mind that this happened. She was such a shy person. They didn't deserve this.''
Espey said investigators knew Stinnett was still alive within an hour of being found around 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Paramedics tried to revive the young woman, who was pronounced dead later at a hospital. Espey was frustrated that it took hours for a statewide Amber Alert to be issued. It didn't appear until about 12:30 a.m.
''We had a live baby, and I thought that should qualify as an Amber Alert,'' he said. ''The information I was getting was that we didn't have enough information such as hair color, eye color, skin complexion, size and weight.''
Stinnett, married for little more than a year and expecting her first child, worked at an engine factory in nearby Maryville. Her husband was at work at the time she was killed, authorities said.
Several pregnant women have been killed in recent years by attackers who then removed their fetuses, in some cases to pass the children off as their own.
In the most recent case, a 21-year-old woman was shot to death in Oklahoma in December 2003, allegedly by another woman who pretended the 6-month-old fetus was her child. The fetus died and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.