LONGMONT, Colo. – A Colorado woman whose unborn baby was cut from her womb by a stranger with a kitchen knife has been released from a hospital a week after the gruesome attack.
The family of Michelle Wilkins, 26, said in a statement Wednesday that she is in a safe location with her partner, Dan, and faces a long and costly recovery. The baby girl she planned to name Aurora did not survive.
Police say Dynel Lane, 34, lured Wilkins to her home on March 18 with a Craigslist ad offering baby clothes. Lane then beat and stabbed Wilkins and removed the unborn child. Lane was arrested at a hospital after telling her husband she had suffered a miscarriage. Prosecutors plan to charge her Friday.
Wilkins, who had recently moved to Colorado and was teaching pottery classes, was about eight months pregnant.
Her family thanked the public for an outpouring of "love, kindness and spiritual solidarity" they say has helped her heal. An online fundraising effort has already generated more than $45,000.
"We cannot predict what lies ahead for Michelle," the family's statement said. "What we can say is that we have all been deeply moved by the many people who have reached out to Michelle and her partner to share their own personal stories of tragedies they've endured and how they managed to first just survive and then eventually start to heal. That alone has given us the strength to get up and face each day."
Such attacks are rare and surviving one is even more unusual. There have been 17 cases of so-called fetal abductions since July 1987, including the Colorado case, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Only one other victim besides Wilkins survived.
The charges Lane could face depend how and when the baby died. Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett has said there's essentially no way to bring murder charges against Lane under Colorado law unless investigators can prove the baby was alive outside the mother's body.
The case reignited a highly charged debate playing out across the country over when a fetus can legally be considered a human being. Colorado has twice rejected proposals to make the violent death of a fetus a homicide.
State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt of Colorado Springs said Wednesday in a video posted on YouTube that existing Colorado law falls short of protecting unborn children and that the attack was a sign from God that the nation has lost its way.
"This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open," Klingenschmitt said.