In December 2004, 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, believed she was meeting a woman named Darlene Fischer regarding the purchase of a dog. Instead, the person claiming to be Fischer online was actually 36-year-old Lisa Montgomery, who strangled Stinnett and proceeded to cut Stinnett's unborn baby from her womb and kidnap her. The baby was recovered by authorities the next day, and Montgomery was charged with kidnapping resulting in death.
The case would later become the basis of a Law & Order: SVU episode, and although we likely will never know for certain, there are several theories on what Montgomery's motives were in killing Stinnett and stealing her baby.
Lisa Montgomery Posed As A Buyer For One Of Bobbie Jo Stinnett’s Dogs
After meeting through an online forum for rat terrier breeders and enthusiasts called "Ratter Chatter," Lisa Montgomery and Bobbie Jo Stinnett got to know one another through their shared love of dogs. Throughout the duration of their online relationship, the two shared pregnancy stories, as Montgomery told Stinnett she was also expecting.
As the two continued to chat online, Montgomery also began messaging Stinnett from a different email address inquiring about buying a puppy under the fake name of "Darlene Fischer." Stinnett set up a meeting with a woman named Darlene Fischer in December 2004. But, unbeknownst to Stinnett, it was actually Montgomery who showed up at Stinnett's door.
Montgomery Killed Stinnett And Stole Her Unborn Baby, Then Claimed It Was Hers
On December 16, 2004, Montgomery entered the home of Stinnett, murdered her by strangulation, and cut her unborn child from her womb.
Montgomery then called her husband, Kevin, claiming she had gone shopping, went into labor, and had a baby. Kevin and the couple's two teenaged children drove and met Montgomery in the parking lot of a Long John Silver's fast food restaurant. Kevin, Montgomery, and the baby drove home in his pickup truck while the older children drove Montgomery's red Toyota Corolla home. Montgomery told Kevin the baby was born at a women's clinic; however, authorities revealed after a subsequent check that there were no babies born at the aforementioned clinic that day.
Police Captured Montgomery In Her Home Holding Stinnett's Baby
As soon as the authorities were contacted regarding Stinnett's death, they immediately began tracing the false emailer, which eventually led to Montgomery's home, more than 130 miles away. Authorities began to run surveillance and noticed Montgomery with a "newborn female infant." Authorities also noted there was a vehicle at the residence matching the description of the one seen outside of Stinnett's home.
When Montgomery was taken into custody, she "confessed to having strangled Stinnett and removing the fetus. Lisa Montgomery further admitted the baby she had was Stinnett's baby and that she had lied to her husband about giving birth to a child."
Stinnett’s Daughter Survived Being Removed From Her Mother’s Womb
Stinnett's daughter, Victoria Jo, was recovered by authorities and taken to Stormont-Vial Regional Medical Center in Topeka, KS, where she was reunited with her father, Zeb Stinnett, days after the attack and abduction.
"The baby is fine. The baby is doing great," US Attorney Todd Graves said.
Today, Victoria Jo still lives in the area she was born, but little else is known about her. Her surviving family has successfully kept her away from the media as much as possible.
Stinnett Became Friends With Her Killer Through Dog Shows
Nancy Strudl, a fellow rat terrier breeding enthusiast, told ABC's Good Morning America that Montgomery and Stinnett had met in person at a dog show in Abilene, KS, in April 2004, months before the attack. Strudl, a dog trainer, said the two "definitely knew each other," and has a photograph showing both of the women.
The picture shows seven people holding rat terriers: Stinnett on the right, with a purple ribbon, and a woman who resembles Montgomery on the left. According to Strudl, Stinnett's husband, Zeb, and one of Montgomery's daughters are among the seven people in the picture.
Montgomery Suffered A Secret Miscarriage And Repeatedly Faked Pregnancies
Nodaway County Sheriff Ben Espey told CNN that Montgomery had a miscarriage the same year as the attack and that she lost the baby when she was six months along. Espey believed this was a potential motive in the case, stating, "I think she was probably going to take it because she had lost one through a miscarriage at about six months." Though Montgomery did have a miscarriage, it was reported that she also faked multiple pregnancies in the dog-breeding world.
Rat terrier community member Nancy Strudl said Montgomery claimed she was pregnant with twins, but lost one. Strudl also discussed how she felt Montgomery lied often, telling ABC's Good Morning America:
We knew that she lied a lot... Lisa had been telling the entire rat-terrier community for months and months and months that she was pregnant. The girl was skinny as a rail. She never gained an ounce. None of us believed that she could be pregnant.