Stolen Fetus Suspect Arraigned

The woman who allegedly strangled an expectant mother and cut the fetus out of her womb was arraigned on Monday before a packed courtroom.

Lisa Montgomery (search ), of Melvern, Kan., was charged with kidnapping resulting in death in her first court appearance in Kansas City, Kan.

Wearing a navy-colored jumpsuit and slippers, Montgomery, 36, did not speak to the court as her public defender refused to waive her right to preliminary and identity hearings.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Waxse scheduled both for 9 a.m. Thursday and declined a defense request for a gag order. Montgomery's public defender, Charles Dedmon, would not comment after the hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead would not answer specific questions from reporters about the case, but authorities have said Montgomery confessed to the crime.

The suspect's husband, Kevin Montgomery, told reporters outside the courthouse he knew nothing about his wife's alleged actions. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

"My family has suffered a tragedy, but I am not the only family," he said. "This has to be as hard or harder on them as it is on me. I sure hope they get as much support from their church and community as I have because we are all going to need it."

Meanwhile, the baby girl, Victoria Jo Stinnett, left a Topeka, Kan., hospital with her father and another family member Monday in "remarkably good" condition, especially since she was a month premature.

The office of U.S. Attorney Todd Graves has filed a motion seeking to have Montgomery held without bail pending a trial.

Authorities said Montgomery confessed to strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett (search) of Skidmore, Mo., on Thursday, cutting out the fetus and taking the baby back to Kansas. She is accused of trying to pass the child off as her own to family and friends. The baby girl was later recovered unharmed.

Until her release, the child was cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit at Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center (search).

"She's in remarkably good condition for what has happened to her," hospital spokeswoman Tami Motley said.

On Sunday, churchgoers in two communities struggled to understand the death.

In the small northwestern Missouri town of Skidmore, the minister who presided over Stinnett's wedding last year is offering his services at her funeral on Tuesday.

"They were kids in the neighborhood, nice young kids," said the Rev. Harold Hamon of Skidmore Christian Church. "She's just a real nice girl, real pretty, quiet and reserved."

Though Hamon didn't discuss the death directly in the sermon, it was very clearly on the mind of the congregation, he said. A member of the congregation who spoke at the couple's wedding performed the communion meditation Sunday, and his subject was forgiveness.

"He kind of broke up trying to talk about it," Hamon said of the speaker, a tough cowboy-rancher type with a big heart. "It is something that is so intense right at the time."

Hamon said he was probably addressing Christmas cards when Stinnett was killed at her home in Skidmore while her husband, Zeb, was at work. A short time later, a member of his congregation called to say she had heard an ambulance and wondered if anyone near the church was hurt. Hamon said he looked out the window and saw police cars parked in front of Stinnett's house.

"It's almost unbelievable that right under your nose something terrible can be happening," Hamon said.

Across the state line in Kansas, the Rev. Mike Wheatly, pastor of First Church of God in Melvern, said he wrote his Sunday sermon about the birth of Jesus before details about Stinnett's death surfaced.

Titled, "A Baby Changed Everything," it had added relevance.

"You could've put the situation of Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the same sermon because they are both special babies," he said.

Stinnett's mother found her daughter almost dead Thursday afternoon, her body in a pool of blood inside the couple's small white home. Stinnett, who died later at the hospital, had been eight months pregnant with her first child.

Police recovered Stinnett's baby a day later after tracking down Montgomery through e-mails she had sent Stinnett about buying a dog.

Montgomery, a mother of two, lied to family and friends about being pregnant with twins and suffering a miscarriage, investigators said. Detectives doubt whether she was pregnant at all.

She met her husband at a Topeka fast-food restaurant with Stinnett's baby, telling him she had gone into labor while shopping in the city, authorities said.

Montgomery's husband has not been charged.

A few similar cases have been reported. Two of the most highly publicized were in 1987, when Cindy Lynn Ray, who was 8 ½ months pregnant, was abducted and slain in Albuquerque, N.M., and in 1995, when Debra Evans, nine months pregnant, was slain in Addison, Ill. In both cases, infants were cut from their wombs and kidnapped.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.