How 'womb raider' Lisa Montgomery tricked pregnant mum before slicing baby out of her in vile murder that shook America
NEXT month, 'womb raider' Lisa Montgomery will be walked into the execution room in chains, strapped to the gurney, and injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs.
The 43-year-old will become the first woman to be executed in the US for 67 years after being sentenced to death for the horrific 2004 killing of Bobbie Jo Stinnett – in which Montgomery cut Stinnett's unborn baby from her womb with a kitchen knife.
Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant and just 23 years old, was strangled by Montgomery in her home in Skidmore, Missouri.
The killer had researched home births and how to perform cesarean sections online before the attack – which left a horrific scene discovered by Stinnett's mum, Becky Harper, an hour later.
"There was blood everywhere. She was laying on the floor," Harper tearfully said at Montgomery's trial.
"It looked like she exploded all over the place."
Miraculously, Stinnett's baby survived and was rescued by cops – Victoria was returned to her dad, Zeb, and she'll turn 16 on December 16.
But heartbreakingly, as pointed out by prosecutor Matt Whitworth: "Every time she has a birthday, it will also be the anniversary of the slaughter of her mother.
"Every year, for the rest of her life".
'Like her guts exploded'
Montgomery met dog breeder Stinnett online – she pretended to be pregnant to bond with Stinnett and said she was interested in buying a rat terrier.
On December 16, 2004, Montgomery arrived at Stinnett's house pretending to be 'Darlene Fischer'.
Once inside, Montgomery strangled Stinnett from behind with a rope and then cut her unborn child from her womb.
Husband Zeb was at work at the time of the killing – he later said he "broke down" when he was told his wife had been murdered and his daughter kidnapped.
It was Stinnett's mum who went to the house when her daughter failed to pick her up from work.
There, she found the horrific scene in the back bedroom, telling the 9-1-1 operator: "It’s like her guts have exploded or something."
When cops arrived at the grisly scene, they saw that Stinnett's umbilical cord had been cut.
The horrific reality dawned on them that the killer had snatched Stinnett's baby, who could well still be alive.
Twisted history of horrific abuse
Cops demanded a nationwide AMBER child abduction emergency alert be issued right away to enlist public help with the search – but they were denied because the system had never been used for an unborn baby before.
But a congressman intervened to put the alert out, which led to police receiving an important tip-off.
Coupled with emails found on Stinnett's computer, Montgomery became a suspect.
When investigators arrived at Montgomery's farmhouse 200km away in Melvern, Kansas, they found the killer sitting in the living room with a newborn in her arms, the AMBER alert flashing on her TV screen.
DNA testing confirmed the baby's identity and cops charged Montgomery with the kidnap and murder.
At trial, it emerged that Montgomery had tried to pass off Victoria as her own baby to friends and family.
And while she had four children of her own, Montgomery had previously lied about being pregnant to other people after having a tubal ligation in 1990, meaning she couldn't have more children.
The only good thing that comes from this tragedy is that little Victoria is a healthy baby and is reunited with her family
Her defence team tried to argue that she suffered from pseudocyesis, a mental condition in which someone falsely believes they are pregnant.
Expert witnesses for the prosecution denied the diagnosis – though it did later emerge that Montgomery had herself been subjected to years of extreme abuse by her own family.
Her stepdad repeatedly raped her in a specially made room in his trailer when she was 13, and her mother held a gun to her head aged 14 when she discovered the abuse.
Montgomery married when she was just 18 in a bid to escape her sickening home life – but the marriage and another that followed were also filled with more violence.
Experts concluded post-conviction that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and psychosis, as well as permanent brain damage as a result of her beatings.
Ordered to die
On October 22, 2007, the jury found Montgomery guilty and, a few days later, she was sentenced to death.
The jury didn't know the extent of Montgomery's abuse or mental illness until after the trial, leading to criticism of her defence team.
But even on appeal her death sentence was upheld and she is due to be executed by lethal injection on December 8 at US Penitentiary Terre Haute in Indiana.
She'll be the first female federal inmate put to death in the US since Bonnie Heady was sent to the gas chamber for kidnapping and murdering a six-year-old boy back in 1953
"The only good thing that comes from this tragedy is that little Victoria is a healthy baby and is reunited with her family," US Attorney John F. Wood said at the time of Montgomery's conviction.
Former Maryville public safety investigator Randy Strong, who rescued Victoria from Montgomery's arms, has spoken of his pride in Victoria's amazing resilience.
"You know, she is this community’s little girl," he told News Press Now in 2015.
"And she is a survivor."
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