Lisa M. Montgomery

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Lisa M. Montgomery
Lisa Montgomery.png
Born Lisa Marie Montgomery
(1968-02-27) February 27, 1968 (age 49)
Nationality American
Other names Darlene Fischer, The Womb Killer
Known for Convicted of the 2004 murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett and kidnapping of her unborn infant
Criminal charge Murder
Criminal penalty Death
Criminal status Incarcerated

Lisa Marie Montgomery, (born February 27, 1968) is an American woman from Melvern, Kansas, who was convicted of the 2004 murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett. Montgomery killed the pregnant Stinnett before cutting Stinnett's unborn baby out from the womb and kidnapping her.[1]


Montgomery met Stinnett online in a rat terrier chatroom called "Ratter Chatter."[2] Posing as "Darlene Fischer," Montgomery told Stinnett that she, too, was pregnant. The two women chatted online and exchanged e-mails about their pregnancies.[3] Montgomery then arranged a meeting at Stinnett's home under the pretext of wanting to buy a rat terrier. On December 16, 2004, Montgomery strangled the pregnant woman with a pink neon rope in her home in Skidmore, Missouri, and cut the premature infant from her womb. She later attempted to pass the infant girl off as her own child.[4]

Stinnett was discovered by her mother, Becky Harper, in a pool of blood about an hour after the assault. Harper immediately called 911, describing the wounds inflicted upon her daughter as appearing as if her "stomach had exploded". Attempts by paramedics to revive Stinnett were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital in Maryville, Missouri.[citation needed]

The next day, December 17, 2004, Montgomery was at her farmhouse when she was arrested.[5] After Montgomery's capture by police, the day-old baby, Victoria Jo Stinnett was returned to the care of her father, Zeb Stinnett.[6]


Montgomery's criminal offense, established under the Federal Kidnapping Act,[7] intended to make it easier for federal authorities to respond to kidnappings once they cross state lines. She was tried and convicted for "kidnapping resulting in death," in Title 18, United States Code 1201. U.S. attorney Todd Graves stated that federal jurisdiction is established when a person dies as a result of a kidnapping. Violations of Title 18, USC 1201 may result in capital punishment and/or any sentence up to life imprisonment.[8]

Federal Medical Center, Carswell, where Montgomery is held

At a pre-trial hearing, a neuropsychologist testified that head injuries which she had suffered some years before could have damaged the part of the brain which controls aggression.[9] During her trial in federal court, her defense attorneys asserted that she suffered from pseudocyesis, a mental condition that causes a woman to falsely believe she is pregnant and exhibit outward signs of pregnancy.[10]

Noted neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran gave expert testimony that Montgomery suffered from severe pseudocyesis delusion. According to Ramachandran, Montgomery's childhood sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder predisposed her to pseudocyesis. Ramachandran testified that Montgomery's stories about her actions fluctuated because her delusional state fluctuated. Ramachandran stated that Montgomery was suffering from a severe mental disease or defect when she committed the crime and that she was unable to appreciate the nature and quality of her acts.[11] Federal prosecutor Roseann Ketchmark characterized Ramachandran's theory linking the murder/kidnapping to pseudocyesis as "voodoo science."[12]

Forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz testified for the prosecution. Dietz had worked with prosecutors on other high-profile cases, including those of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, as well as two women, Andrea Yates and Susan Smith, who had killed their own children. Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity.[13] Dietz testified that Montgomery did not suffer from pseudocyesis and dismissed Ramachandran's theory as outrageous.[14]

On October 22, 2007, jurors found Montgomery guilty of murder. On October 26, the jury recommended a death sentence.[15] Judge Gary A. Fenner formally sentenced Montgomery to death.[5]

Prosecutor Matt Whitworth claimed that Lisa Montgomery planned the murder well in advance, according to a report from the BBC. On April 4, 2008, a judge upheld the jury's recommendation for death.[16]

The case is detailed in the 2006 books Baby Be Mine by Diane Fanning[17] and Murder in the Heartland by M. William Phelps.[18]

On March 19, 2012, the US Supreme Court denied Montgomery's certiorari petition.[19]

Montgomery, who is registered for the Federal Bureau of Prisons under number 11072-031, is currently being held at Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.[20] She could become another woman to be put to death by the federal government since 1927, and second since Ethel Rosenberg was executed for espionage at Sing Sing Prison in New York State on June 19, 1953. Bonnie Emily Brown Heady was executed in Missouri on December 18, 1953.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kansas Town Stunned By Kidnap-Murder Case". 2004-12-19. Archived from the original on September 22, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  2. ^ "Law Center: Couple allegedly showed off kidnapped baby; Dad united with daughter". [CNN]. December 20, 2004. Retrieved April 27, 2009. [Montgomery], using a fictitious name, contacted Stinnett on Wednesday through an Internet chat room about looking at rat terriers the Stinnetts sold over the Internet. [...] The Internet chat room "Ratter Chatter," a haven for rat terrier lovers in cyberspace, was overwhelmed with responses from its users, many of whom indicated they knew both the victim and suspect in the case. 
  3. ^ True Stories of Law & Order: SVU (page 155) by Kevin Dwyer and Juré Fiorillo. (Berkley, 2006. ISBN 0-425-21735-3)
  4. ^ "Bobbi Jo Stinnett Murdered for her Baby by Lisa Montgomery". Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  5. ^ a b Marshall, John (2008-04-08). "Lisa Montgomery gets death penalty for killing pregnant woman". Associated Press at the Southeast Missourian. Retrieved 2016-08-16. 
  6. ^ "Dad united with kidnapped girl". 2004-12-19. Archived from the original on 2007-10-29. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  7. ^ Phelps, M. William. Murder In The Heartland. Pinnacle Books, June 1, 2007. ISBN 0786026375, 9780786026371. p. 231.
  8. ^ Phelps, M. William. Murder In The Heartland. Pinnacle Books, June 1, 2007. ISBN 0786026375, 9780786026371. p. 232.
  9. ^ Summers, Chris (2007-10-01). "The women who kill for babies". BBC. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  10. ^ "Jury considers death for convicted fetus thief". MSNBC. 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  11. ^ American, United States v. Lisa M. Montgomery, April 07, 2011 [1]
  12. ^ BBC News, One-Minute World News, Tuesday, 23 October 2007
  13. ^ Park Dietz Associates – In The News
  14. ^ News-Press web site article
  15. ^ "Jury: Lisa Montgomery should be executed". 2007-10-26. Archived from the original on 2007-10-28. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  16. ^ Bill Mears. Woman gets death sentence in fetus-snatching murder. CNN, 2008-04-04.
  17. ^ Mystery Writers of America book detail, Baby Be Mine by Diane Fanning
  18. ^ M. William Phelps Murder in the Heartland Archived April 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ "US Supreme Court denies certiorari petition.[dead link]
  20. ^ "Lisa M Montgomery." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on October 3, 2010.[dead link]
  21. ^ Montaldo, Charles. "Lisa Montgomery Sentenced to Death." Monday April 7, 2008. Retrieved on October 3, 2010. Aileen Woernous 2002.

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