Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Life Wrapped in Death

by Diane Fanning

The landlord sniffed a “horrifying smell” that convinced her she had to enter 23-year-old Darlene Haynes(pictured below right) apartment on July 27, 2009. There she found the young woman’s mutilated body, again raising the nightmarish specter of Cesarean abduction in the public consciousness. Media reports cited the case of Lisa Montgomery, the woman sentenced to death for murdering Bobbie Jo Stinnett to steal the baby from her body—the subject of BABY BE MINE, the most difficult book I’ve ever written.

The violent death of a pregnant woman violates all our standards of decency and brings the word "evil" to our lips. The time a woman spends carrying a baby is supposed to be a special time — I know it was for me — and when an expectant mother is killed, she is often not the only one to die. In taking her life, the life of the most innocent of all victims is often forfeited as well.

Most pregnant women who die of homicide are victims of domestic abuse by an intimate partner. Typically, the motivation for these murders are the man's desire to control the woman or to free himself of an unwelcome burden or change of lifestyle.

Law Enforcement is familiar with domestic violence but that experience does not translate to the snatching of a newborn or a Cesarean abduction. These female killers do not know their victims well and have no personal resentment toward them. They target pregnant women at random, based only on their physical condition, in a narcissistic urge to satisfy their own needs without any regard for anyone else.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the abductor in these types of cases is “desperate to bask in the rapture of baby love—to feel adored and needed.” The typical perpetrator “truly believes she is about to give birth and fully expects everyone to accept the reality she has attempted to create.”

“Infant abductors want what they want when they want it. They don’t care who they step on to get there,” said Cathy Nahirney at the Center. “If you are standing in their way, they will run you over without a blink of an eye and leave you to die on the pavement while they pursue their all-consuming goal.”

Making it harder on investigators, these women do not usually have rap sheets. If there is anything on their record, it is for minor, nonviolent crimes like shoplifting or check kiting.

“Infant abductions are usually carried out by women who are not criminally sophisticated,” according to a September 1995 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. “However, the women demonstrate an ability to plan…” the crime “…and convincingly play a role… Most of these women are living a lie—before, during and after the abduction. Many have faked a pregnancy, which eventually forces them into a corner. They feel they have no choice but to produce a child by any means necessary. Indeed, infant abductions are the desperate acts of desperate women. As one infant abductor put it, “I began getting desperate trying to figure out what I was going to do—how I was gonna find someone to give me their baby—now.”

In trying to understand this crime in the context of our normalcy, we often wondered if the woman who kills for a baby is despairing because of an inability to get pregnant or a recent miscarriage. However, this is normally not the case. These women are, more likely than not, sociopaths who don’t love children but who do love the power and attention that feel is connected with motherhood. In other words, these women want a child solely for the attention in brings to them.

On the victim’s side of the equation, this crime evokes extreme emotion, devastating the immediate family, the community where it occurred and more often than that, resulting in the death of the newborn. What can a woman do to protect herself from Cesarean abduction or any form of infant abduction? The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a wealth of resources on line as well as a toll-free number to call with questions. The bottom line, though, is that a pregnant woman or new mother needs to exercise awareness and caution.

Don’t post a photograph of yourself appearing pregnant on a public forum on line. Don’t put up a cute pink or blue sign in your front yard advertising the birth of your child. And pay attention to your intuition—if a situation or a person makes you uncomfortable, trust yourself and don’t let fears of looking foolish stand in the way of your innate common sense.

Darlene Haynes should be alive today, holding a two-month-old baby in her arms. Fortunately, Darlene’s baby survived and the suspected killer, Julie Corey (left), and her alleged accomplice are behind bars. But no matter how severe a sentence is handed down to Corey, it will not bring back Darlene Haynes' life—nor will her innocent baby ever know the warmth of her biological mother's smile.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Scary and terrifying trend, but good suggestions for pregnant women. Do you think that doctors should include a pamphlet about this, when they do the pregnancy test? I never would've thought to take such precautions, when I was expecting. Sad. Great article!!

Diane Fanning said...

Thank you, Anonymous. I think it would be terrific if doctors would pass out personal safety information to pregnant women. Maybe some do. Every single life saved is worth the effort.

Kathryn Casey said...

I know this is good advice, Diane, but it makes me sad that we even have to think about such horror.

Cheryl said...

I can't ever recall hearing about a baby taken from the womb until recent years. Its a horrilbe way to kill someone. I can only imagine the terror these women face during their final moments of life.

EVERY woman/man/child should take precautions when using sites like FaceBook and MySpace. Its unbelievable how much personal information people put on their sites. The reality is no one is thinking about becoming a victim when they write about themselves. It can happen to any of us though.

Great topic Diane.

ConnieB said...

This is sad to think it has happened again. My neighboring town Ravenna, Ohio about 10 years ago (?) had this happen. It really hits home when it is close by.

Anonymous said...

Alex Dion was released upon questioning in this case. He is just another person that she lied to about the pregnancy. Is there another accomplice you are speaking of?

I cant think of one case of these fetus abductions where there was an accomplice.

In this case too, none of what you said would have helped her. They were old neighbors and friends. Thats how she knew she was pregnant. They didnt meet over the computer like in the Stinnet and Snively cases.

Diane Fanning said...

I remember the Ravenna case, Connie. I touched on it in BABY BE MINE. It is very sad.

Kathryn, it is a shame that we even have to think about this things ever but unfortunately the minority make life perilous for the minority. And you're right, Cheryl, we should all be careful.

Diane Fanning said...

Anonymous,I didn't use his name because although he was arrested as an accomplice, he was released. There are those who suspect his involvement but I didn't want to get into that since it diverted from the purpose of the article to defend and protect. You are right, in this case, the tips I gave in the article would not have saved this woman, however, the ones listed on the linked National Center for Missing and Exploited Children may have.

Christie said...

A new baby is a time to rejoice. It is such a shame there are predators such as this just waiting to maime and kill to steal that joy. I hope all new and expectant mothers take heed to these suggestions. Thank you Diane for such an informative article.

Diane Fanning said...

You're welcome, Christie. Great to hear from you again.

Anonymous said...


You said he was BEHIND BARS. He was detained and released after questioning. Your research sucks. You even list the landlord as a she in this case.

Jeannine said...

This - taking a baby from the body mudering is relatively new. I think we have to go to the bigger picture here. Why women are so sick and desperate for children? Attention as you said. But why now in this generation? We have the 14 children idiot woman, we have over a dozen women out there with 8 or more children - on purpose. This is ludicrous. I think they should all be investigated because they have deep emotional wounds that they are passing down to their kids. If you can't have a baby, maybe there is a higher meaning to this. A spiritual lesson. Of course, they will never get it. And neither do we - as a society. Otherwise we wouldn't put them all over the tv.