Welcome to The Mahogany Files; a brief look at interesting cases which have caught the attention of Mx Mahogany over the years.
On 15 December 2004, 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett received the following message enquiring about the rat terriers that she bred and advertised online:
Bobbie promptly responded to this new customer a few short hours later:
The crime that followed is one of the most disturbing things that Mahogany has ever read about; like something out of a horror movie but unfortunately all too real. Readers can research the case, its details, and its tragic outcome via a multitude of sources. But, as far as this Mahogany is concerned, there is but one definitive overview of this case: U.S. v. Montgomery, 635 F.3d 1074 (8th Cir.2011) [PDF]. Every word is perfect:
A. The Crime
Montgomery and Bobbie Jo Stinnett met at a dog show in April 2004. Both women were involved in the breeding of rat terriers and were acquainted through online message boards dedicated to their mutual interest. Stinnett maintained a website to promote Happy Haven Farms, her dog breeding business located in her home in Skidmore, Missouri. The website included pictures of Stinnett and her dogs. After she became pregnant in spring 2004, Stinnett shared the news with her online community, which included Montgomery. Stinnett was eight months pregnant in December 2004.
In spring 2004, Montgomery began telling her friends, family, and online community that she was pregnant. More than a decade earlier, however, she had undergone tubal fulguration, a sterilization procedure that involved occluding her fallopian tubes by cauterization. Montgomery was thus incapable of becoming pregnant. Nonetheless, Montgomery reported testing positive for pregnancy, began wearing maternity clothes, and began behaving as if she were pregnant. Unaware of the permanent sterilization, Montgomery’s husband, Kevin Montgomery (Kevin), and her children believed that she was expecting. Some of Montgomery’s acquaintances believed that she was pregnant and showed signs of pregnancy, but others did not. Those who knew that Montgomery had been sterilized—including her former husband and his wife—accused Montgomery of deceiving her family. She responded that she would prove them wrong.
Using the alias Darlene Fischer, Montgomery contacted Stinnett on December 15, 2004, via instant message. Stinnett had a litter of puppies for sale, and Montgomery expressed interest in purchasing one. The women agreed to meet the next day. Although Montgomery lived in Melvern, Kansas, she told Stinnett that she was from Fairfax, Missouri, a town near Skidmore. That night, Stinnett told her husband and her mother, Becky Harper, that a woman from Fairfax was going to stop by and look at the puppies.
On December 16, Montgomery drove from Melvern to Skidmore and arrived at Stinnett’s home around 12:30 p.m. Montgomery carried a sharp kitchen knife and a white cord in her jacket pocket. The women brought the puppies outside and played with them. At 2:30 p.m., Stinnett received a phone call from Harper and confirmed that she would give Harper a ride home from work at 3:30 p.m.
Some time after the phone call ended, Montgomery attacked Stinnett and used the cord to strangle her until she was unconscious. Montgomery then used the kitchen knife to cut into Stinnett’s abdomen, causing Stinnett to regain consciousness. A struggle ensued, and Montgomery strangled Stinnett a second time, killing her. Montgomery extracted the fetus from Stinnett’s body, cut the umbilical cord, and left with the baby. Montgomery entered her car and drove away from the Stinnett home, holding the baby in her arms and pinching the umbilical cord.
Harper called Stinnett shortly after 3:30 p.m. When no one answered, Harper walked the two blocks to Stinnett’s home. The front door was open, and Harper went inside, calling for her daughter. She reached the dining room and found Stinnett’s body lying there, covered in blood. Harper called 911 and told the operator that her daughter was eight months pregnant and in need of medical assistance. Harper said that it looked like Stinnett’s stomach had exploded.
Meanwhile, after driving a short distance from Stinnett’s home, Montgomery stopped to clamp the umbilical cord and to suction any mucus from the baby’s mouth. The baby cried, but other than a cut above her eye, she was uninjured. After cleaning the baby with wipes, Montgomery retrieved the car seat she had stored in the trunk of her car and placed the baby in the seat. She drove to Topeka, Kansas, and called her husband, telling him that she had gone into labor while Christmas shopping and that she had given birth at a women’s clinic in Topeka. She asked him to meet her at a parking lot near the clinic, which he did. They returned to Melvern together, with Montgomery’s daughter and son driving her car home.
The Montgomerys called friends and relatives to announce the birth of their daughter, Abigail. They slept in the living room, next to the baby’s bassinet. The next day, they ran errands and went out for breakfast, introducing Abigail to the people they met. Shortly after they returned home, law enforcement officials knocked on their door. Kevin answered the door and invited the officers into the home. Montgomery was sitting on the couch, holding the baby.
Sergeant Investigator Randy Strong explained that they were investigating the murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett. He asked about the baby, and Montgomery said that she had given birth at a women’s clinic in Topeka. She asked Kevin to retrieve the discharge papers from his truck. Kevin searched the truck, but he could not find the papers.
Strong then asked to speak to Montgomery outside the home. Montgomery allowed a law enforcement officer to hold the baby and accompanied Strong. Montgomery explained that her family was having some financial problems, so, unbeknownst to her husband, she had given birth at home, with the help of two friends. When asked the names of the friends, Montgomery responded that they had not been with her at the house but were available by phone in case she had trouble delivering the baby. Montgomery said that she had given birth in the kitchen and had disposed of the placenta in a nearby creek. At Montgomery’s request, the officers moved their questioning to the sheriff’s office. Shortly thereafter, Montgomery confessed to killing Stinnett, removing the fetus from Stinnett’s womb, and abducting the child.
After the baby was returned to her father, she was named Victoria Jo Stinnett.
Lisa Montgomery is currently on death row. She is also not the only person to have committed a crime like this.