There has been a long history of baby snatchers; men and women who kidnap little ones for a variety of reasons, the most common being their own inability to conceive. But I can think of only one case where the baby was snatched while still in the womb and that dubious distinction belongs to Lisa Montgomery.
Lisa and her eventual victim, Bobbie Jo Stinnett could not have been any more different if they tried. Bobbie was married to her high school sweetheart Zeb, and was described by friends and family as shy, kind and intelligent. Lisa, on the other hand was looked upon as an unfit mother and a chronic, habitual liar. What brought them together was an online forum about rat terriers. Montgomery was a breeder, and the pair struck up an internet friendship after Bobbie Jo defended Lisa after she was accused of lying about the pedigree of her dogs.
Lisa had led a troubled life, her history of lies destroying her marriage and forcing her to move to a different city on more than one occasion. She ended up in Melvern, Kansas and hooked up with Kevin Montgomery and his family. Shortly afterwards, Lisa claimed to be pregnant with twins, but everyone was skeptical given her history of lies and her outward appearance. Regardless, Lisa shared her news on the rat terrier forums and Bobbie Jo, pregnant with her first child, found one more reason to befriend Montgomery.
The pair exchanged e-mails about their pregnancies, and eventually Lisa asked to meet Bobbie, so that she could purchase one of her rat terriers. In December of 2004, Montgomery drove her red hatchback to the Stinnett home where she proceeded to strangle Bobbie Jo, before cutting her open and removing the baby from the womb. She then called her husband Kevin, and told him that while she was out shopping in Topeka, Kansas, she had gone into labor and gave birth to a baby girl at a local clinic.
Bobbie’s mother discovered her body, and contacted the police who issued an Amber Alert, even though they were unsure whether or not the baby was alive. A member of the online forum community saw the alert and contacted authorities to let them know that a meeting between Bobbie and Lisa (using the name Darlene Fischer) had been arranged on the forum. Meanwhile, the day after the murder and abduction, Lisa and Kevin were on the streets of Melvern proudly showing off their new baby girl, “Abigail”. They stopped in at the local café before heading to their pastor to share their good news. Not surprisingly, the townsfolk were shocked that Lisa had the child, with nobody believing she had been pregnant in the first place. Whilst the happy couple showed off the baby, police used online records to track Darlene’s account back to Melvern, and the home of Lisa and Kevin.
That alone may have been enough to do her in, but her red hatchback matched the one which had been spotted outside the Stinnett home, and a call to the Topeka clinic where baby “Abigail” was alleged to have been born, revealed that no baby girls had been delivered on the day that Montgomery claimed. With no other option available to her, Lisa confessed to the crimes and was arrested by authorities. During her trial, her lawyers tried to show that head injuries suffered as a child may have caused damage to the part of the brain that controls aggression, as well as claiming that she suffered from pseudocyesis, a mental condition that leads women to believe they are pregnant. The jury was unmoved, and found her guilty, recommending that she receive the death penalty. The judge agreed, and on April 4th, 2008, Lisa Montgomery became only the third woman in history to receive the death penalty, and will remain incarcerated at Leavenworth until her execution.