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Baby Be Mine: The Shocking True Story of a Woman Who Murdered a Pregnant Mother to Steal Her Child
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Baby Be Mine: The Shocking True Story of a Woman Who Murdered a Pregnant Mother to Steal Her Child

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by Diane Fanning

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When Lisa Montgomery presented her husband Kevin with their new-born baby girl, he was ecstatic. Naming the child Abigail, the couple brought her to their local pastor. Miles away, police were investigating the brutal murder of a pregnant woman...

Twenty-three year old Bobbie Jo Stinnett was found by


When Lisa Montgomery presented her husband Kevin with their new-born baby girl, he was ecstatic. Naming the child Abigail, the couple brought her to their local pastor. Miles away, police were investigating the brutal murder of a pregnant woman...

Twenty-three year old Bobbie Jo Stinnett was found by her mother, lying in a pool of blood, looking as if her stomach "had exploded." Investigators soon determined: Someone had strangled Bobbie Jo to death—and then cut her fetus from her womb...

In late 2004, two women met in a dog-breeding internet chat room. When Elizabeth Montgomery came face to face with eight-months-pregnant Bobbie Jo Stinnett, prosecutors claim she already had a plan. Investigators knew that Bobbie Jo had fought desperately for her life—and that her fetus, alive or dead, was gone. Investigators scrambled after a killer. An "Amber Alert" went out for an hours-old infant. And this horrifying case was about to shock neighbors and a nation: of a woman accused of murdering for a baby...

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.23(w) x 6.69(h) x 0.70(d)

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Chapter One

Chris Law looked out the window of his home onto Elm Street, a quiet neighborhood in the small run-down town of Skidmore in the northwest corner of Missouri. Most of the houses on that dead end street cried out for a fresh coat of paint or the immediate attention of a carpenter or roofer. They huddled together tired and neglected—sagging beneath the weight of a cold December day. The bare branches of the trees and the winter weariness of the lawns added to the bleakness of the block.

Chris peered catty-corner across the street to the little white bungalow with flaking paint that Zeb and Bobbie Jo Stinnett called home. They were a cute couple—friendly but quiet. Bobbie Jo, though, had a sparkle in her eye that revealed an ornery sense of humor beneath her gentle, still demeanor.

The young couple in their early twenties were newlyweds—their marriage less than two years old. They were already expecting their first child—the due date was January 19. The coming of the baby created a growing excitement for their tomorrows. They saved every penny they could to build a nest egg and make it possible to own their own home. They envisioned a life for their baby that exceeded the expectations they had for their own.

Now just nine days before Christmas, Bobbie Jo had reached that awkward, waddling stage. She rolled up the sidewalk more than she walked. She had to hold on to a secure object when she bent down to pick something up off the floor.

Chris had planned to walk over and pay a visit to Bobbie Jo that afternoon. He wanted to ask her about her recent pre-natal test results. In a town this small, everyone focused on each expectant mother. With the population shrinking, any birth was big news.

He hesitated when he spotted a dirty, pinkish-red two-door import parked the wrong way in front of her house. He thought he ought not to bother Bobbie Jo, since she had company. He popped his head up to the window a couple of times to see if the coast was clear so he could slip over without interrupting her social visit.

It seemed to him as if the car was there for hours. But he could have been wrong. Waiting for a change of events over which he had no control did make time crawl slower than the sand in a clogged hourglass.

Sometime well before 3:30, he decided he would catch up with Bobbie Jo later. He jumped in his car to drive the fourteen miles up State Road V to Maryville to run a few errands. His town had no grocery store, pharmacy, fast food restaurants or even a Wal-Mart.

As he hit the end of Elm Street, he had second thoughts—maybe he should stop in and check on Bobbie Jo anyway. What if something was wrong? He pulled out on the main road and circled around a block as he toyed with the idea. Ultimately, he decided not to yield to his sudden flash of paranoia. He'd be a good neighbor and not disrupt her visit with her guests. He headed on up the road.

Once Chris left home, no one was watching 410 Elm Street. Bobbie Jo was alone with her mystery visitor. The rat terriers she bred out of her huge love of animals and passion for the breed—and for a small profit—were put up in their room. No neighbor looked as the front door jerked all the way open. Not a soul saw the dirty-blond woman with the frenzied eyes and furtive moves walk across the front porch. No one took note of the blanketed bundle cradled in her arms. No one watched as she scurried to her car, pulling the bundle closer to her chest as if sheltering it from the wind and the cold. No one heard the unmistakable cry of a newborn infant. No eyes followed the dirty red car with Kansas plates as it made a rough U-turn at the dead end of Elm Street and drove off to parts unknown.

A short while later, Becky Harper turned onto Elm Street. She passed the big yellow house with its toy-laden porch and splotchy lawn. She drove beyond a sad, sagging home with a weedy front yard. She turned around at the dead end and pulled in front of her daughter Bobbie Jo's home. It was 3:30 in the afternoon.

The front door to the tiny bungalow was ajar. A tingle of concern sent ripples across her scalp. Folks in Northwest Missouri simply did not leave their doors open to the cold of December. Even nice sunny days bore too much chill in the air.

Becky pushed the door all the way open, hollering, "Bobbie Jo! Bobbie Jo!"

There was no response. A tight band of apprehension tugged in her chest. Bobbie Jo was eight months pregnant. Had she gone into early labor? Was she sick—too sick to respond? Becky hesitated with each step she took into the house.

Stepping inside the home, she saw nothing to cause alarm. Everything was neat and orderly in the living room. She moved to the dining room and the kitchen. Everything was in its place. Even this late in her pregnancy, Bobbie Jo maintained the tidy appearance of her modest home. Becky called out to her daughter again and was greeted by frustrated barks from Bobbie Jo's dogs. Becky moved past the kitchen and toward the animals confined in the small bedroom Bobbie Jo transformed into a room for her dogs. Barks and whimpers emerged from the metal kennel cages lining the room. Against one wall, an old dresser served as a grooming station for her rat terriers.

As she reached the doorway, a vision out of a slaughterhouse exploded before Becky's eyes. Blood. Pools of blood. Garish red smears streaked and swirled on the oak floor boards. Huge, dark clots of blood scattered on the surface like trampled roses in mud.

Becky saw the body on the floor, but in her heart she wanted to believe all this carnage was from one of the dogs. Whatever horrible thing happened to any one of them would break Bobbie Jo's heart. She could deny the reality before her dazed eyes for brief seconds only. There at her feet lay her only daughter—the mother of her soon-to-be first grandchild—and she was covered in blood. The young woman who, twenty-three short years ago, was only a small warm burden inside of Becky's body now lay still on the floor.

Splotches of blood covered Bobbie Jo's face. Streaks of ruby red ran up and down her arms. Her belly, distended from pregnancy, splayed open to reveal protruding internal organs scorched with a screaming crimson. Even the small soles of Bobbie Jo's feet glistened with blood.

Becky's eyes saw the truth of the horror. Her mind ran from it. Her eyes had to be lying. She tried to deny the truth of her senses and failed. Still, the scene made no sense to her. She struggled to frame it into a coherent possibility. "My daughter's intestines exploded," she said when she called 9-1-1.

As soon as the words passed her lips, she was no longer certain of their reliability. Her world tilted and wobbled on an unreliable axis. She was undone.

The operator asked, "Is she still breathing?"

"I don't know," Becky wailed. She kneeled in the blood beside her oldest child's side struggling to numb the paralyzing emotions that siezed her own limbs. She followed instructions as the operator talked her step-by-step through the administration of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

She tilted back Bobbie Jo's head and pinched her nose. She covered her daughter's mouth with her own and delivered the sharpest breath she could. She rose up and placed her hands on Bobbie Jo's chest and pushed down. One time. Two times. Thirty times.

In less than twenty seconds she was back on her daughter's mouth with two more breaths. Then back to the chest compressions again. Over and over. Breathing and pushing. Counting the compressions aloud to block the noise of her own dreadful thoughts and keep her focus.

She choked. She sobbed. But she did not stop.

Four-term Nodaway County Sheriff Ben Espey was in the dispatch center in Maryville when Becky's frantic call shattered the peace of a quiet afternoon. He jumped in his truck and floored the pedal—making the half-hour drive in fourteen minutes. He was the first responder on the scene.

Becky turned to him with crazed yet determined eyes and pleaded, "I need help with this." CPR was so simple but so exhausting.

Espey got down on the floor to assist. He smelled the slight musky undertone of dog present even in this clean, well-kept kennel. Blaring above that scent was the iron-rich scream of freshly-shed blood. He saw no signs of life in the body of the young woman on the floor, but did not whisper his fears to the mother. He just worked with Becky as a team while distressed dogs whimpered their mournful fears.

On the east end of Elm Street, Carla Wetzel heard the howl of the sirens. She could not see where the vehicles stopped. But it was just past the time school let out and she worried that a school bus had wrecked.

Across the street from the Stinnett home, Tracy Grossoehme played in the yard with her two small children, enjoying the relative balminess of that winter afternoon. They stopped what they were doing as the ambulance pulled into their street, staring open-mouthed.

As it parked in front of their neighbor's home, Tracy's oldest child asked, "Can we say a prayer for the hurt person?"

"Yes, we can," Tracy said.

Three heads bowed in a moment of silence, marking the first public prayer sent to the heavens for Bobbie Jo and her baby. It certainly would not be the last.

Five minutes after Espey's arrival, the paramedics flew out of the ambulance and into the house, where they relieved Becky and the sheriff of their hopeless duty. The emergency medical pair checked for vital signs and found no indication of life. Just the same, they attempted to revive Bobbie Jo, continuing the performance of CPR her mother started, but they, too, failed to get a response. It was far too late.

Espey told the paramedics that Bobbie Jo was eight months pregnant. He then listened in disbelief as one of the emergency medical technicians pointed to the cut umbilical cord and informed him, "This lady has been murdered because someone came to get the child out of her body."

It didn't seem possible. Espey struggled to wrap his mind around the crime. How could anyone attack a pregnant woman? How could anyone abduct a baby in such a vicious, violent way? In his mind, he ran through the list of brutal people in his jurisdiction. Certainly there were those who could commit murder. But someone who would kill this young woman and then run off with the baby? It made no sense.

In the kitchen, the shell of Becky Harper shuffled to the sink and turned on the water. Her shoulders slumped. Her vision blurred from the buildup of an abundant but not yet fallen rush of tears. A burning in her midsection made her want to double over, slide on the floor and sleep. She stuck her reddened hands under the faucet and tried to wash away the stain of her child's blood. No matter how clear the water ran, she would forever see the red spots on her hands.

The last trace of her living baby girl, who'd brightened her life—made her proud—swirled down the drain with a finality that hit Becky hard. A pounding surge of love rose and crashed down—shattering on the rough rocks on her newly earned, hard-as-granite grief.

Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a soft-spoken, sweet-smiling 23-year-old woman, streaked away from her home in an ambulance. It headed up the road traveled by Chris Law just a short time before. Bobbie Jo was declared dead upon arrival at St. Francis Hospital & Health Services in the nearby county seat of Maryville.

Copyright © 2006 by Diane Fanning. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Diane Fanning is the author of the Edgar Award finalist Written in Blood: A True Story of Murder and a Deadly 16-Year-Old Secret That Tore a Family Apart. Her other works of true crime include the best-selling Mommy's Little Girl, A Poisoned Passion, The Pastor's Wife, Gone Forever and Through the Window. She has been featured on 48 Hours, 20/20, Court TV and the Discovery Channel, and has been interviewed on dozens of radio stations coast to coast. Before becoming a nonfiction writer, Fanning worked in advertising, and she earned more than 70 Addy Awards. She lives in New Braunfels, Texas.

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Baby Be Mine 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
blueeyegirl24 More than 1 year ago
diane fanning really but alot into her reasearch in this disturbing case this book tells you what goes on in a socipaths mind you just gotta read this book to really understand what was wrong with lisa why she did what she did
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book intitled baby be mine by diane fanning was an interesting book.I came across this particular book due to my preference of true crimes. Although this crime is very horrific and unfortunate the writing wasn't so great.Diane fanning rambled on a bit too much about non sense. She talked more of the history of the town then the actual crime. The summary of this story is basic. Lisa montgomery kills young bobbie jo stinnett in order to take her child. The story also talks about the past life of lisa montgomery and her reasons for killing bobbie jo. Lisa was a deranged and uncommon type of person. She claimed many false pregnancies and her only success of a real baby was talking the life of an innocent mother-to-be. The stinnett family was very well prepared for their up and coming bundle of joy and now all of that has changed because of someonelses wants. The main point that caught my eye was how far lisa montgomery went just to receive a baby and at the cost of anything. I feel happiness takes time and although you may feel you need it at that moment, the measures shouldn¿t be so high. Because patience, as everyone says, is a virtue. But in the case of lisa montgomery she was desperate for a baby and she found her ¿perfect¿ solution which led her to sit behind bars and now put to rest. The case was most interesting to me because i've never heard of such crimes. This book was heartbreaking because of the fact that this crime was real. I would never have imagined such a crime to be committed. In my opinion lisa has serious issues and i agree with the sentance she was ginen because she deserved it for a premeditated crime such as this. I enjoyed the book overall but i wouldnt really recommend this book. In my opinion the case wasnt to through.Diane seemed as if she had so little details of the particular crime. I say i wouldn¿t recommend the book because, as for me it wasn¿t very informational in the sense of bobbie jo. I honestly found more detail on this crime surfing the web. I think diane fanning could¿ve done a little better with the facts she had in her book. Overall i felt the book was okay but not great!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pretty good read. Went too much into other crimes and their details, seemed like they were just "fillers".
Guest More than 1 year ago
The case itself was written very well. There was way to much about the other cases, and not enough about this particular case. I understand that the towns people would not talk to her. But in my opinion if she didn't have more information about the case then she shouldn't have written the book. All the information in this book seems like it was taken entirely from news footage. I do not reccomment this book at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A much better book written about this disturbing and horrifying case is "Murder in the Heartland" by M. William Phelps. I have tried to read two other of books written by Diane Fanning and I couldn't finish them. They were poorly written and boring. She is very interesting when she is interviewed about cases on Discovery ID and that's why I picked up this book. I couldn't get through it. Phelps' book on this case is very well written and just flows like good writing should. It grabbed me right away and makes you feel like you are there. I couldn't put it down. Those of you who were didappointed in "Baby be Mine" should check out Phelps' book. You won't be disappointed.
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Lindsie More than 1 year ago
Reading the information on this book really got me interested in it which is why I picked it up. However, I was a bit disappointed because the story wasnt very long- the author did not get into the case as much as other true crime writers would. This book was not dedicated to Bobby Jo's story; instead it included many more cases every other chapter about other cases that were like it, and then other cases that only had to do with the towns history. While it is interesting to compare the cases I was hoping for a bit more from the story as it is titled.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great! I have read all of Diane Fanning's books and this one tops them to date. The author has great knowledge and detail throughout the book. She makes you feel as if you know the people in the book.