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Suspect took infant to show pastor, others

Sun., Dec. 19, 2004

MELVERN, Kan. — 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 Saturday.

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

Hours before her arrest, Montgomery and her husband showed off a newborn girl at a restaurant, said Kathy Sage, owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe.

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

Montgomery was arrested later in the death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was found 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.

Authorities said Montgomery contacted Stinnett through an online message board, and investigators zeroed in on her using computer forensics. Montgomery was seeking to buy a dog from Stinnett, who raised rat terriers.

While the couple ate breakfast, 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 beautiful.”

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

Jeff Lanza, an FBI spokesman in Kansas City, Mo., declined to discuss motives and said the investigation is ongoing.

The baby girl, named Victoria Jo, was in good condition Saturday. Several family members, including her father, had been reunited with her at a hospital late Friday.

“She’s doing well,” said Carol Wheeler, a spokeswoman for Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center.

The family was not speaking to reporters, but the child’s father, Zeb Stinnett, issued a brief statement calling the child “a miracle.”

“I want to thank family, friends, Amber Alert and law enforcement officials for their support during this time,” he said.


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