Fetus-Snatching Murderer, Lisa Montgomery, Sentenced To Death

Posted Apr 4, 2008 by Susan Duclos
In 2004, Lisa Montgomery strangled a 23 year old pregnant woman, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was found in her home in Skidmore, Missouri, with her belly cut open and her unborn child missing.
Lisa Montgomery
Booking photo of Lisa Montgomery after her arrest for killing eight month pregnant Bobbie Jo Stinnett, then cutting the fetus from Stinnett's body- Photo from Wyandotte Sheriff's Department
Wyandotte Sheriff's Department, Kansas
Stinnett's mother found her daughter in a pool of blood and called 911 immediately, telling them it looked, "as though her daughter's stomach had exploded," stated an an FBI affidavit.
Authorities started a nationwide search immediately with massive media coverage and police found Lisa Montgomery, in Kansas, with the baby, which survived, and she had claimed was her own.
After she was in custody, according the affidavit, 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.
The baby was brought to the Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center in Topeka, Kansas, and the united with her father, Zeb Stinnett. The baby's name is Victoria Jo.
Monday, December 20, 2004, Lisa Montgomery was brought to court and sat motionless as the charges were read against her in in U.S. District Court.
CNN reported at the time that her attorneys answered all questions at that hearing and she never looked up from the complaint that was sitting in front of her.
In the original indictment, dated 1/12/05 (4 page PDF file), the Grand Jury charged:
On or about December 16, 2004, at Skidmore, in Nodaway County, in the Western District of Missouri and elsewhere, LISA M. MONTGOMERY, the defendant, a/k/a Darlene Fischer, a/k/a Fischer4kids, willfully and unlawfully kidnapped, abducted, carried away, and held Victoria Jo Stinnett, and willfully transported Victoria Jo Stinnett in interstate commerce from Skidmore, Missouri, across the state line to Melvern, Kansas, the actions of the defendant resulting in the death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett.
The went on to charge 11 special findings, describing the murder and kidnapping.
The Department of Justice issued a news release on that day announcing the indictment of Lisa Montgomery.
Lisa M. Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, was charged by a federal grand jury with kidnapping Victoria Jo Stinnett and taking her across the state line from Skidmore, Mo., to Melvern. According to the indictment, Montgomery’s actions resulted in the death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, the baby’s mother.
The federal indictment alleges that Montgomery strangled Bobbie Jo Stinnett with a rope and then used a kitchen knife to cut her infant daughter from her womb. At the time of her death, the indictment says, Bobbie Jo Stinnett was eight months pregnant.
On November 16, 2005, the US Attorney's office filed a Notice of Intent to seek the death penalty against Lisa Montgomery for the muder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett. (5 page PDF file)
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2007, a jury of six men and six women, with three alternates were seated in the capital murder trial of Montgomery and opening arguments began on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007 with U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner presiding.
During the trial prosecutors told the jury that Montgomery had first contacted Stinnett on the Internet, through their mutual interest in breeding rat terrier dogs, and later went to Stinnett's house.
For 21 days the prosecution and defense both laid out their cases, finishing up on Oct. 22, 2007, where the jury went into deliberations that lasted approximately four hours before returning a guilty verdict.
(Additional information- Defense attorneys claimed Montgomery was suffering from pseudocyesis, which causes a woman to falsely believe she is pregnant and exhibit outward signs of pregnancy. They portrayed her as a victim of severe mental illness whose delusion of being pregnant was being challenged, causing her to enter a dreamlike state when the killing took place.
They also argued that she had post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by mental, physical and sexual abuse in her childhood.)
The penalty phase of the trial started on Oct. 24, 2007, and closing arguments for that phase commenced the following day, where the jury then deliberated about a sentence of either death or life in federal prison without parole.
Today, Friday, April 4, 2008, U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner handed down the death sentence upon Lisa Montgomery, making her the third woman on federal death row.
This woman's actions did not only cause Bobbie Jo Stinnett's baby to be motherless, but Montgomery also has two children, high school aged at the time of the crime, who will now be without a mother.
Information for this report was obtained from the Department of Justice.