With Laci Peterson’s smiling face still fresh in the nation’s mind, another grisly murder of an expectant mother has suddenly captured new headlines, this time in Missouri, where 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, eight months pregnant with her first child, was strangled and her baby cut from her womb.
Authorities said Lisa Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kan., confessed to strangling Stinnett, cutting out the fetus and taking the baby back to Kansas. She is accused of trying to pass the child off as her own to family and friends. The baby girl was later recovered unharmed.
Montgomery is due to appear in court Monday, the Associated Press reports. She was held in a detention center in Kansas City, Kan., and it remains unclear whether she will be arraigned in Kansas or Missouri.
On Sunday, churchgoers grieved for Stinnett and struggled to understand the horrific slaying.
“It’s almost unbelievable that right under your nose something terrible can be happening,” said the Rev. Harold Hamon, who lives in the small town of Skidmore in northwestern Missouri.
Hamon – who married Bobbie Jo and Zeb Stinnett at his Skidmore Christian Church last year – said he was probably addressing Christmas cards when the young woman was killed.
A short time later, a member of his congregation called to say she had heard an ambulance and wondered if anyone near the church was hurt. Hamon said he looked out the window and saw police cars parked in front of Stinnett’s house.
“They were kids in the neighborhood, nice young kids,” Hamon said. “She’s just a real nice girl, real pretty, quiet and reserved.”
According to AP, Stinnett’s mother found her body in a pool of blood inside the couple’s small white home on Thursday afternoon. Police recovered Stinnett’s baby a day later after tracking down Montgomery through e-mails she had sent Stinnett about buying a dog.
Montgomery, a mother of two, lied to family and friends about being pregnant with twins and suffering a miscarriage, investigators said. Detectives say they doubt whether she was pregnant at all.