There’s nothing new about baby snatchers.
People throughout history have often resorted to stealing the children of others, but few have taken their obsession as far as Lisa Montgomery.
She is a woman like a few others, clearly deranged and so set on her idea of reality that she honestly believed she could convince those around her that she was a good mother. It was this delusion that led her to kill a woman who was eight months pregnant and viciously cut her child from her body.
Lisa Montgomery’s Lies
Lisa Montgomery had a long list of lies to her name before the thought of murder entered her mind. When she was just a teenager in 1986, she married Carl Bowman, with whom she went on to have four children in four years. Montgomery saw pregnancy as the ultimate way to get attention, and she loved it. However, when her last child was delivered very prematurely, doctors advised her to have tubal litigation, which she did. They didn’t believe she would be able to carry another baby to term.
According to Bowman, Montgomery cheated several times during their 14-year relationship, and had to move from Oklahoma to New Mexico and then onto Kansas because of all the problems she created through lying. In court, Bowman described Montgomery as being a chronic, selfish liar with low self-esteem. He said she was critical of others, but never outwardly violent.
In the 1990s, despite having had tubal litigation, Montgomery faked two pregnancies. She was briefly divorced from Bowman in 1993, but they married again the following year. In 1998, it was Montgomery who filed for divorce, taking their four children and re-partnering. Her new man was a shy electrician by the name of Kevin Montgomery. He was a father of three, living in Kansas. In 2000, they married and lived in a blended family with Kevin’s parents, the newlyweds, and their seven teenagers.
From the outside, Montgomery presented a complicated image. She appeared to be a homebody, who lived for her children and spoke of them often. But her neighbors were concerned that the kids were neglected, wearing dirty rags and being left to fend for themselves. Not long into her relationship with Kevin, Montgomery faked another pregnancy, only to miscarry close to her due date. Although Kevin was aware Montgomery had undergone tubal litigation, he wasn’t sure what the term meant and didn’t realise it would stop her from being able to have children. Then, just a few months later, she again ‘felt pregnant’, this time with a December 2004 due date. It was this lie that would lead Montgomery to murder.
Bobbie Jo Stinnett was a 23-year-old shy, kind, intelligent and trusting woman. She was protective of her younger brother and had married her childhood sweetheart, Zeb, in 2003, just a few years after graduating high school with honors. In 2004, they were excitedly expecting their first child. Bobbie Jo’s hobby was rat terriers, a breed of dog that she was passionate about, winning dog shows and sharing her knowledge on breeding in online chat rooms.
This is how she encountered Lisa Montgomery.
Montgomery was still operating under the lie that she was expecting a child with a December 2004 due date. Bobbie Jo had no reason to disbelieve her, and online, the two chatted about their pregnancies, sharing information and advice on both babies and rat terriers. Montgomery was a skilled liar, even her own husband had no idea her pregnancy was fake.
However, the pressure was starting to build. Her ex-husband had filed for custody of two of their children, and she knew that she would need to admit in court that her pregnancy was faked, showing mental instability.
So, on December 15, 2004, Montgomery posted on the rat terrier chat forum under a fake name “Darlene Fisher”. She contacted Bobbie Jo under the pretext of purchasing one of her rat terriers. Bobbie Jo agreed to meet her the next day and gave her directions to her home.
That next day, December 16, 2004, Kevin Montgomery got a call from his wife at around 5:15pm. She was in Topeka, Kansas and informed him that she had delivered a daughter at a women’s clinic when she was shopping out of town. Kevin went to pick Montgomery up with two of their children, and the family drove home with the newborn in Kevin’s truck. Their teenagers followed in Montgomery’s red Toyota Corolla.
A Horrific Murder
Around the same time, Bobbie Jo’s mother Becky Harper dropped in at her daughter’s home. There, she found the 23-year-old lying in a pool of blood holding tufts of blonde hair in her fists. Her stomach had been violently sliced open, and her child was missing. Harper called the police. Despite not knowing whether the child could have survived the ordeal of its birth, they issued an Amber Alert.
The next day, Montgomery and her husband took their newborn out into the community. They had named the baby Abigail, and they went to breakfast and visited the local Reverend to show the baby off. People were understandably shocked, having found it hard to believe that Montgomery was pregnant in the first place, and that anyone would take a baby so young out into the world. It seemed idyllic, but the law was catching up with Lisa Montgomery.
After hearing about the death of Bobbie Jo, another poster on the rat terrier website saw that a woman named Darlene Fisher had arranged to meet with the murdered woman. She called the FBI, who were able to trace the poster’s IP address straight back to Lisa Montgomery. When they heard about her birth story, they contacted birth clinics in Topeka, and were able to confirm that no babies had been born on the 16th of December. The net had closed on lying Lisa.
Arrest And Trial
Lisa Montgomery was arrested on the 17th of December at her home. The baby, later named Victoria Jo Stinnett, was returned to the care of her anxious father in good health despite her traumatic and premature birth.
Montgomery was charged with kidnapping resulting in death, a crime for which the sentence was life imprisonment or capital punishment. At her trial, a neuropsychologist tested in her defense that previous head injuries might have damaged the part of the brain that controls aggression. It was also suggested that Montgomery suffered from pseudocyesis, a mental condition where women falsely believe they are pregnant, and even exhibit signs of pregnancy.
However, this defense was not enough to convince the jury. On October 22, 2007, they finally found Montgomery guilty of murder and recommended the death sentence. This was upheld by the judge overseeing the case, and in April 2008, Lisa Montgomery was officially given the death sentence for the death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett.
Lisa Montgomery Put to Death
Lisa Montgomery was executed via lethal injection on the 13th January 2021 in the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was pronounced dead at 1.31am.
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