It’s called ‘Newborn kidnapping by Caesarean section’

By Jason Cato
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, October 14, 2005
Cases of children being ripped from the womb and kidnapped are shocking,
but rare.

Since 1987, there have been eight documented cases in which fetuses were
stolen, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children. Seven of those eight mothers died; all but two of the children
lived.

The phenomenon even has a name: “Newborn kidnapping by Caesarean section.”

While the center has extensive details and records of abductions in which
fetuses were successfully removed, it does not track attempted cases,
such as one that occurred Wednesday in Armstrong County.

Peggy Jo Conner, 38, of Manor, is accused of hitting Valerie Lynn Oskin
in the head with a baseball bat and later trying unsuccessfully to remove
her unborn child with a razor. Oskin, 30, also of Manor, was flown to
Allegheny General Hospital, North Side, where doctors performed an
emergency Caesarean section.

“Sadly, infant abductions happen. Not with a lot of regularity, but they
do happen across the country,” said Cathy Nahirny of the National Center
for Missing and Exploited Children, based in Alexandria, Va.

In February, a Kentucky mother fended off an attack by a knife-welding
woman attempting to steal her unborn child, which was near full-term.
During a struggle inside the would-be-abductor’s apartment, Sarah Brady,
26, wrested away the knife and fatally stabbed the assailant.

Three of the successful abductions happened in the past five years, but
that is not indicative of a trend considering there are 4 million births
a year in the United States, Nahirny said.

“I think it’s random,” she said.

The typical abductor is a woman of childbearing age who relies on
manipulation and deception to make people believe she is pregnant and to
gain the trust of a woman who really is pregnant. The motive often is a
desire to have a child in order to “save” a relationship with a boyfriend
or husband, Nahirny said.

“There are some very, very disturbed people out there,” she said. “I
cannot tell you how creative these women are.”

Conner told authorities she was seven months’ pregnant and that she told
her husband and many others about it, according to the affidavit of
probable cause. Police, however, said there is no evidence to suggest
Conner is pregnant.

Ann Burgess, a Boston College nursing professor and the lead researcher
in a 2002 study on newborn kidnapping by Caesarean section, said Oskin
likely would have been killed were it not for a 17-year-old boy who
noticed her and Conner along a secluded dirt road.

Other women who have attempted to steal unborn children were not deranged
or insane, Burgess said. Delusional, maybe.

“The thinking is similar, in that they have delusions they can take
someone else’s baby,” Burgess said. “But what (Conner) didn’t plan out
well is how she was going to get away with it and what she was going to
do with the body.”

Documented cases

Unborn children were cut from their mothers’ wombs and stolen at least
eight times since 1987:

1987; Albuquerque, N.M.: Darci Piecer, 19, strangled Cindy Ray in the
desert and used car keys to cut into the woman’s womb.

1992; Brownsville, Texas: Sisters Rosa and Paulyna Botello lured Laura
Lugo across the Mexican border, where the woman was drugged and her
unborn child removed through Caesarean section. Lugo survived, but later
was killed in an unrelated incident.

1995; Addison, Ill.: Three people shot Deborah Evans in the head and then
used scissors and a knife to remove her fetus. The suspects also killed
two of Evans’ other children.

1996; Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Felicia Scott, 29, sliced open Carenthia Curry,
17, and stole her child before shooting the mother in the head and
stuffing her body in a plastic garbage bag.

1998; Fresno, Calif.: Josephina Saldana, 40, abducted Margarita Flores in
an attempt to steal her unborn child. Saldana took the dead fetus to the
hospital the next day. Flores’ remains were found in Tijuana, Mexico.

2000; Ravenna, Ohio: Michelle Bica, 39, abducted Teresa Andrews, 23, and
shot her in the back before removing her unborn son. Bica shot herself as
FBI agents waited to question her.

2003; Okemah, Okla.: Effie Goodson, 37, shot Carolyn Simpson, 21, in the
head, then used a knife to cut out the woman’s 6-month-old fetus. Goodson
was arrested after taking the dead fetus to a hospital, claiming to be
the mother.

2004; Skidmore, Mo.: Lisa Montgomery, 37, drove from her Kansas home to
the house of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, where she strangled the 23-year-old
woman before using a knife to cut out her unborn daughter.

Sources: “Newborn Kidnapping by Caesarean Section,” published in the
Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2002; National Center for Missing and
Exploited Children

© 2005 by The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.

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