- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2004

MARYVILLE (AP) — Hundreds of mourners gathered yesterday for the funeral of a young pregnant woman who was strangled and whose baby girl was cut from her womb and kidnapped.

The crowd packed the flower-filled Price Funeral Home and overflowed into the entrance for the service for Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23. Cars lined the streets on a bitterly cold day.

“I’ve known her since she was a baby,” said family friend Carl Montgomery. “She grew up into a beautiful swan.”

Mrs. Stinnett’s mother found her eight-months-pregnant daughter in a pool of blood in her home Thursday, and the baby she was carrying was missing.

Lisa M. Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kan., — a woman Mrs. Stinnett knew from dog shows, and no relation to the family friend — has been charged with kidnapping resulting in death.

Family and friends said Mrs. Montgomery, who was arrested Friday, tried to pass off Mrs. Stinnett’s baby as her own. The child, who has been named Victoria Jo Stinnett, spent the weekend in a Topeka, Kan., hospital before going home Monday afternoon with her father, Zeb Stinnett, and another relative.

The Rev. Harold Hamon, who married the Stinnetts in spring 2003 at the Skidmore Christian Church, spoke at the funeral. Burial was at a cemetery in Skidmore.

Many mourners were unable to get into the service. Others, some crying and exchanging hugs, took turns letting each other get closer to the sanctuary. One tearful mourner carried a dozen pink roses, but became so distraught she had to be taken outside.

Afterward, pallbearers waited outside as the golden coffin was placed into a hearse.

In the evening, members of the community gathered for a reception with the Stinnett family. Bill Dragoo recalled the shy, young mother-to-be and her husband.

“The community is 100 percent behind them,” said Mr. Dragoo, 52, who helped construct Mrs. Stinnett’s dog kennel.

The FBI would not comment on whether Mrs. Stinnett and Mrs. Montgomery had met before Thursday. But a Nebraska dog trainer said the two women had chatted on the Internet — and attended the same dog shows.

The two were even photographed together at a dog show in Abilene, Kan., in April, said Nancy Strudl of Omaha, Neb.

Miss Strudl recalled Mrs. Stinnett as shy but “a sweetheart after you got to know her.” She said Mrs. Stinnett knew so much about the genetics of the rat terrier breed that she gave advice to others. She also said Mrs. Stinnett “stood up” for Mrs. Montgomery, whom Miss Strudl accused of misrepresenting the pedigree of dogs she sold.

“She said, ‘Maybe it was just a misunderstanding,’” Miss Strudl said. “She was so trusting, and she convinced them to give [Mrs. Montgomery] another chance.”

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