December 18, 2004

Father United with Baby Cut from Slain Mother

The girl, Victoria Jo Stinnett, was healthy and "a miracle," the Stormont-Vail hospital in Topeka, Kansas, quoted the girl's father, Zebulon Stinnett, as saying after the two were united late on Friday.

The girl's mother, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, had been found strangled in her Missouri home on Thursday with her abdomen sliced open, the baby gone and the umbilical cord cut.

The woman was eight-months pregnant when discovered in a pool of blood by her mother, Becky Harper. Investigators said Harper "noted it appeared as though her daughter's stomach had exploded."

A nationwide "Amber Alert" for the missing baby drew intense attention. It was credited with helping authorities find the girl alive and in the possession of Lisa Montgomery, 36, of Kansas, who was arrested on Friday on murder and kidnap charges.

Montgomery confessed to killing Stinnett and taking the baby, according to a federal criminal complaint. Based on the statement, the authorities united the baby girl and her father, although DNA tests are pending, Nodaway County, Missouri, Sheriff Ben Espey said through a spokeswoman.

"I want to thank family, friends, Amber Alert and law enforcement officials for their support at this time," Zebulon Stinnett said in the hospital statement.

Stinnett, of Skidmore, Missouri, and other family members had traveled to Topeka to be with the baby, who was listed in good condition.


Montgomery probably will appear in court on Monday in either Kansas or Missouri, authorities said.

Authorities desperately trying to find the prematurely born baby had honed in on Montgomery with the help of a tip and FBI computer sleuths tracing Internet communications. They tracked the baby to the town of Melvern, in eastern Kansas, where she was found at Montgomery's home.

Bobbie Jo Stinnett bred and sold rat-terrier dogs, and had been in communication on her computer with someone who asked for directions to her home to make a purchase, according to an affidavit released by the U.S. Attorney in Kansas City.

Stinnett's mother also told the authorities her daughter had said in a phone conversation that she was expecting someone to come and look at her dogs and then said, "Oh, they're here, I've got to go."

Marks on Stinnett's throat indicated she had been strangled from behind, and blond hair was found clenched in both of her hands.

The motive for the crime remained unknown, investigators said. Local media in Kansas City reported that Montgomery had suffered an earlier miscarriage.

Agents who made the arrest said Montgomery had told her husband, Kevin, that she had unexpectedly given birth.

"She had ... called her husband, we allege in the complaint, and told him that she had a baby in Topeka," Todd Graves, U.S. District Attorney for Western Missouri, told ABC's "Good Morning America.

"She was at Long John Silver's (restaurant) in Topeka, he should come and meet her. He went to meet her; there was a baby; they took it home."

No comments: