A woman accused of murdering an acquaintance to obtain a baby boy she called her own may have lied about giving birth to a stillborn child three years ago, prosecutors said.
A child’s grave is scheduled to be opened Friday by the state medical examiner, Dr. Thomas Bennett, because officials now suspect it may have been empty all along.
“I don’t believe there’s a body in that grave,” Lee County Attorney Michael Short said Monday.
“The old adage of who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb certainly applies. We’re going beyond bizarre at this point.”
Kimmi Lynn Hardy, 36, of Keokuk is charged with murder, accused of luring Theresa Lynn Lund to her home, shooting her to death and showing off Lund’s 6-week-old son, Paul, as her own.
Lund’s mother reported her daughter and grandson missing Aug. 28, the same day Hardy announced she had given birth to a son. Police learned of the baby from an anonymous caller and identified him as Paul through footprint records.
Short said the Lund case may be the second time Hardy faked a pregnancy.
He said Hardy had surgery in 1984 that made it virtually impossible for her to become pregnant as she claimed in 1993.
Hardy’s former husband, Wendell Smith, went with his wife to an Iowa City hospital in 1993 after she told him she was pregnant, Short said in court documents.
“Forty-five minutes later, a call came for Mr. Smith in the waiting room. The female caller advised that his wife had just delivered a boy, but the boy had died. With that, the caller hung up,” the documents said.
The papers don’t say who made the phone call, and Short said, “Your guess is as good as ours.”
Court papers don’t indicate what the woman had told doctors at the hospital, and the hospital had no comment on the woman’s visit.
Smith could not be reached for comment; there was no telephone listing for him.
Smith told authorities his wife said the baby’s remains would be cremated and the ashes returned, and his wife later had a box that allegedly had been shipped to them.
Smith consented to the opening of the grave at Keokuk’s National Cemetery, which has a headstone that reads: “Zachary W. Smith, born Oct. 15, 1993; died Oct. 15, 1993; son of Wendell Smith.”
Hospital and state vital statistics records do not have any information about the boy, Short said. The cemetery does not require a death certificate for burial.
Hardy’s husband of three months, Robert Hardy, told police that she shot the 34-year-old Lund in their basement and hid the body in a crawl space.
He told authorities he found the body but did not come forward at the time. He later led authorities to Lund’s body.
Prosecutors have said he will probably be charged as an accessory in the slaying.