- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — In the end, it wasn’t a fingerprint or a blood spatter that led authorities to the woman suspected of strangling a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy and cutting her to take the baby from her womb.

It was an 11-digit computer code.

Police zeroed in on Lisa Montgomery in the most 21st century of ways, by trolling computer records, examining online message boards and — most importantly — tracing an Internet protocol (IP) address, 65.150.168.223, to a computer at her Melvern, Kan., home.

“That in and of itself led us to the home,” FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza said of the IP, the unique number given to every Internet-connected computer.

Investigators say that just before the slaying, Mrs. Montgomery had corresponded over the Internet with the victim, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, about buying a dog from Mrs. Stinnett. The same technology that makes instantaneous communication possible enabled authorities to crack the case in a matter of hours and rescue the premature baby.

Mrs. Montgomery, 36, made her first appearance yesterday before a packed courtroom in Kansas City, Kan., where her attorney refused to waive her right to preliminary and identity hearings. Both hearings have been scheduled for Thursday morning.

Mrs. Montgomery is charged with kidnapping resulting in death.

Her attorney, Charles Dedmon, would not comment after the hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead also declined to comment, but authorities have said Mrs. Montgomery confessed to the crime.

The 4-day-old girl was released from a hospital in Topeka, Kan., yesterday. Hospital officials did not release any other details at the request of the family.

Kevin Montgomery told reporters outside the courthouse that he knew nothing about the charges against his wife. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

“My family has suffered a tragedy, but I am not the only family,” he said. “This has to be as hard or harder on them as it is on me. I sure hope they get as much support from their church and community as I have, because we are all going to need it.”

Within hours of Mrs. Stinnett’s killing Thursday at her Skidmore, Mo., home, investigators realized the information her computer could hold.

Mrs. Stinnett, 23, raised rat terrier dogs at her home and had been expecting a potential customer the afternoon she was killed. In fact, she had to get off the phone with her mother because the customer was at the door, investigators said.

When her body was discovered, detectives collected not just physical evidence; they also took her computer.

Besides trying to find the killer, investigators were racing against time to find the baby, who was one month premature when she was cut from her mother’s body and, it was feared, might have suffered oxygen loss or other trauma when her mother was strangled.

At the lab, clues seemed to pour out of the computer within minutes — whom Mrs. Stinnett had been e-mailing and which sites she had been visiting. Important tips from the public came in, too. Among them was a North Carolina dog breeder who pointed to communications on a rat terrier message board.

“My adrenaline just started rushing,” said the breeder, Dyanne Siktar. “I knew they could track the IP.”

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