Tipster, computer helped find missing infant
FBI affidavit: Kansas woman confesses to killing baby's mother
Saturday, December 18, 2004 Posted: 2:07 PM EST (1907 GMT)
Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, is shown in an undated photo.
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Kansas woman is accused of kidnapping infant from womb.
Missouri authorities search for missing infant.
• Code Amber
(CNN) -- Computer forensics and an anonymous tipster led police to an infant girl who was taken from her dead mother's womb -- and to the arrest of a suspect.
Lisa Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kansas, confessed to strangling a pregnant woman -- Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23 -- in her Skidmore, Missouri, home and then cutting the baby from her womb, according to an FBI affidavit released Friday.
Montgomery had had a miscarriage at some point this year, authorities said.
The infant is reported in good condition at a Topeka, Kansas, hospital, and police said her father has seen her.
"The baby is doing great," U.S. Attorney Todd Graves said.
Authorities arrested Montgomery and charged her in the kidnapping of the child "resulting in the death of the infant's mother," the FBI affidavit said.
If convicted, Montgomery could face a maximum of life in prison or the death penalty, and a maximum $250,000 fine.
Stinnett was found dead in a pool of blood in her home Thursday afternoon by her mother, who called 911 saying it looked "as though her daughter's stomach had exploded," the affidavit said. Crime scene investigators later determined Stinnett's womb had been cut laterally, the baby removed and the umbilical cord cut, the affidavit said.
Family members expressed shock about the crime.
"I just can't understand why anybody would do a trick like that," said Romaine Henry, a relative of Stinnett's. "I just don't know why."
Neighbors said the events surrounding Stinnett's death seemed unreal. "This stuff doesn't happen," said an unidentified woman. "These are the really bad TV shows that you don't watch."
The Rev. Harold Hammond told The Des Moines (Iowa) Register: "Everyone's pretty well stunned by everything."
Hammond -- who presided over the victim's wedding -- is expected to lead Stinnett's funeral service, the paper's Web site reported. "The only one who can figure this one out is God. You can't explain it. You can't understand it. The funeral is going to be a tough one," he told the paper.
An anonymous tip from a caller in North Carolina helped lead police to Montgomery, affiliate KMBC in Kansas City, Missouri, reported Saturday. Also leading authorities to the arrest were clues found on Stinnett's computer, the station said.
The FBI affidavit paints a picture of deceit and premeditation on the part of Montgomery. It alleges that the woman, using a fictitious name, contacted Stinnett on Wednesday through a chat room about looking at dogs the pregnant woman sold on the Internet. The two agreed to meet Thursday at Stinnett's home, the affidavit said.
Montgomery's Internet computer name was "fisher for kids," authorities told KMBC.
On Thursday afternoon, a neighbor reported seeing a dirty, red pinkish, two-door vehicle -- most likely an import -- outside the Stinnett home.
With a search under way on the ground after the killing, computer investigators began talking with Internet providers and traced the e-mailer to Montgomery's home, more than 130 miles away.
Authorities immediately began surveillance of the home and saw Montgomery on Friday with a "newborn female infant," according to the affidavit. They also saw a vehicle matching the description of one seen outside Stinnett's house, the affidavit said.
It alleges the suspect's husband, Kevin, told authorities his wife called him shortly after he arrived home from work Thursday, around 5:15 p.m., saying she had gone shopping in Topeka, went into labor and had a baby.
The husband and the couple's two high-school age children drove to Topeka and met Montgomery in the parking lot of a Long John Silver's restaurant, according to the affidavit. He, his wife and the child drove home in his pickup, and the older children drove his wife's car, a red Toyota Corolla, the affidavit said.
Montgomery allegedly told her husband the baby was born at a women's clinic in Topeka, but authorities said a subsequent check revealed no children were born there Thursday.
Once in custody, the affidavit alleges, Montgomery "confessed to having strangled Stinnett and removing the fetus. Lisa Montgomery further admitted the baby she had was Stinnett's baby and that she had lied to her husband about giving birth to a child."
Nodaway County Sheriff Ben Espey said Montgomery was six months' pregnant when she miscarried earlier this year.
Of a possible motive in the case, Espey said, "I think she was probably going to take it because she had lost one through a miscarriage."
Authorities expressed relief that the child was recovered alive and attributed that success to the Amber Alert system. They said they learned of the Internet chat room where Montgomery allegedly made contact with Stinnett from the North Carolina tipster.
"We may have not ever recovered this little baby if the Amber Alert system was not put into place," Espey said.
Messages posted on Stinnett's Web site expressed condolences and thanks. "Thank God that the precious baby girl was found alive and well," said one message. "Bobbie will live on through her daughter."