Mon, Dec 20, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Accused killer showed off baby

MURDER SUSPECT Witnesses say a woman who has been charged with killing a pregnant woman and removing her baby showed off the child at a restaurant

AP , MELVERN, KANSAS

A woman charged with killing an expectant mother and cutting the baby from her womb was showing the child off to people at a cafe and to her pastor hours before she was arrested, residents said on Saturday.

Lisa Montgomery, 36, was charged on Friday with kidnapping resulting in murder and was expected to appear in US federal court today. The baby, whose mother had been eight months pregnant, was in good condition.

Hours before her arrest, Mont-gomery and her husband showed off a newborn girl at a restaurant, said Kathy Sage, owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe in Melvern, a small eastern Kansas town.

Many customers were surprised to hear the infant was only a day old, Sage said. She knew a special alert had been issued for a baby missing from Missouri but did not realize the infant the Montgomerys carried was connected until hearing from a reporter on Friday.

"You read about this stuff," she said. "It blows you away when it's here. This stuff is supposed to be in New York City or Los Angeles."

Montgomery was arrested later in the death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was found on Thursday in a pool of blood inside her small white home in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore.

Montgomery's husband, Kevin, has not been charged in the case.

The arrest stunned many in this community of about 420 residents who apparently had believed for months that Lisa Montgomery was pregnant.

While the Montgomerys ate breakfast Friday, another customer showed the baby off around the cafe. After eating, they took the girl to visit their pastor.

"It was a beautiful baby," Mike Wheatly said. "Absolutely beaut-iful."

Wheatly and his wife commented that the baby, whom the couple called Abigail, did not look like a newborn because her head was not misshapen from passing through the birth canal, a common result of childbirth that soon goes away. The only marks she had were a small scratch on her head and a slight bruise on her hand.

The pastor had not seen the couple since October, and everyone in the congregation expected her to give birth around Dec. 12.

US Attorney Todd Graves said Lisa Montgomery contacted Stinnett through an online message board after seeing a Web site about the rat terriers Stinnett bred and raised. The site included a picture of Stinnett, showing she was pregnant.

Investigators searched Stinnett's computer and found she had been communicating through the message board with someone interested in buying a dog claiming to be a Darlene Fischer who lived north of Fairfax, Missouri.

Authorities, helped by a North Carolina dog breeder who was familiar with the message board, determined the communication came from Montgomery's house.

The Montgomerys were taken in for questioning Friday, and Lisa Montgomery was charged. Investigators said she confessed to the crimes.

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