The Measure of Madness

Inside the criminal mind

A "Womb Raider" Kills Again

A Desperate Woman Kills To Get A Newborn Baby

I was interviewed last week by a reporter from WKCT of Bowling Green, Kentucky about an awful murder that happened in his community. On April 13th, a 21-year-old pregnant woman named Jamie Stice was killed and her unborn baby son cut out of her.

Kathy Michelle Coy was arrested for killing Ms. Stice and kidnapping her baby. Coy had gone to the Bowling Green Medical Center with a newborn baby boy who was still connected to the placenta, umbilical cord, ovaries and uterus. She told the staff that she had given birth. A hospital employee called the police.

Coy has not been convicted of the crime and is therefore innocent until proven guilty. News reports, however, indicate that she confessed and told the police where to find Ms. Stice's body. Police officer Chad Winn, told reporters that Coy subdued Ms. Slice with a stun gun. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20055747-504083.html

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If she is guilty, Coy would be the latest example of a type of woman dubbed a "womb raider." The term, "newborn kidnapping by Caesarean section," was used in a 2002 Journal of Forensic Sciences article by Professor Ann Burgess to describe six cases. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-04-14-c-section-kidnappi...

This type of crime is extremely rare. The attackers, always women, are typically between the ages of nineteen and forty. They desperately crave a baby. Some are married with older children and have been unable to conceive.

In the past, this type of woman might kidnap a newborn from a hospital nursery. Today, increased security has closed off this option. Desperate women have looked elsewhere. Some stalked their victims through the internet. It was reported that Coy "friended" Ms Stice on Facebook. A search of Coy's home computer found links to both Ms. Stice and another pregnant woman.

In 2004, Lisa Montgomery made contact with pregnant Bobbie Jo Sinnett through a dog breeding online chatroom. In 2007, 19-year-old Lauren Gash and her friend 17-year-old Alisa D. Betts, used MySpace to lure 18-year-old pregnant Amanda Howard. Luckily Amanda survived the attack. In 2009 Korena Roberts found her victim, Heather Snively, through Craigslist.

"Womb raiders" usually commit the killings alone. There have been, however, a few cases in which one or more of their relatives acted as accomplices. Perhaps the most shocking and disturbing example of this was the 1995 murders of Debra Evans and her two children. Jacqueline Williams and her boyfriend, Fedell Caffey, killed the pregnant mother before cutting the baby from her womb. The infant boy survived. The couple then killed two of Ms. Evan's children. Williams was sentenced to life in prison and Caffey to death. In 2003 Caffey's death sentence was commuted by Governor Ryan when he left office.

Vernon J. Geberth, M.S., M.P.S. the author of Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques, 4th Edition (2006), analyzed nine of these types of cases. He wrote that many of the attackers were motivated to kidnap the newborns in order to maintain relationships with their partners. Seven of the women had pretended to be pregnant. http://www.practicalhomicide.com/Research/LOmar2006.htm

The motivation of these "womb raiders" seems similar to that of a woman I wrote about in a recent post. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-measure-madness/201012/ne...

Maria Teresa Ceja Robles, 33, and Jose Augustine Velarde, 37, were arrested and charged with killing Ana Lila Diaz De Ceja and kidnapping her 2-month old son. Her body, burned beyond recognition, was discovered the next day. She was identified through dental records. Sheriff Mark Pazin reported that the couple gave incriminating statements.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40723214/ns/us_news/

It has been alleged that Ms. Coy, like other "womb raiders," carefully planned the attack. Ashley Nicole, a friend of Ms. Slice, told a reporter that Coy told Slice that she was pregnant and worked for an agency that helped pregnant women. Ms. Nicole said Coy had even produced an ultrasound picture of a fetus. http://www.aolnews.com/2011/04/15/friend-killing-pregnant-kentuck...

One of Coy's neighbors, Darla Mueller, told the press that Ms. Coy had told her that she was pregnant. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20054292-504083.html

There is much about this case that strikes me as unusual. It was carefully planned, yet, at the same time, not well thought through. It was as if Coy had tunnel vision. Apparently, she was organized enough to find a potential victim through the internet. If she is indeed guilty, she was able get Ms. Stice alone and commit the crime. Yet, it seems that she did not predict what would happen next.

Coy was quickly and easily apprehended. Luckily, the baby was unharmed. Chris Cohron, Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney, told reporters that he is considering whether to seek the death penalty.

 

Cheryl Paradis, Psy.D., is an associate professor of psychology at Marymount Manhattan College.

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