- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 18, 2004

MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Authorities last night arrested a woman they say 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.

Police 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 Mrs. Montgomery lied to her husband about giving birth, although U.S. Attorney Todd Graves declined to give a motive for the crime.

Mrs. Stinnett’s mother found the 23-year-old nearly dead Thursday in her home in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore. Paramedics tried to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The baby was found yesterday 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 press conference here. An FBI agent had said the father had already been reunited with the baby, but officials with the bureau and the Topeka, Kan., hospital where the baby was taken later said that was not the case.

Mrs. Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kan., was charged with kidnapping resulting in death, Mr. Graves said. Mrs. Montgomery, a mother of two, had been pregnant but lost a child, he said, though it was unclear when or under what circumstances.

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. Mr. Graves said the investigation was ongoing but would not say if additional charges might be filed or if there was another suspect.

Mr. Graves said the suspect contacted Mrs. Stinnett through an online message board, and authorities zeroed in on her using computer forensics. Mrs. Montgomery was seeking to buy a dog from Mrs. Stinnett, who raised rat terriers, he said.

According to the criminal complaint, Mrs. Montgomery’s husband, Kevin, told officers he received a call Thursday from his wife, who said she was in Topeka, Kan., about 40 miles from Melvern, and had gone into labor and given birth.

Mr. Montgomery and the couple’s two children met Mrs. Montgomery and the newborn at a parking lot in Topeka and drove home, according to the affidavit.

The victim’s mother, Becky Harper, said her daughter called her about an hour before she found her, authorities said. She apparently hung up when someone showed up for an appointment to look at her dogs.

“Oh, they’re here,” Mrs. Stinnett told her mother, according to the affidavit. “I’ve got to go.”

Sheriff Espey said he thinks Mrs. Stinnett was strangled and resisted the attack.

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