Relatives of woman accused of murder, stealing newborn tried to warn family

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Members of Lisa Montgomery's family say they tried to warn people that the woman was making up stories about being pregnant, and their concerns increased after they learned in November that she had purchased a kit for home births.

Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kan., is accused of strangling a pregnant Missouri woman Dec. 16 and cutting her 8-month-old fetus from her body. The baby was found the next day in Melvern after Montgomery and her husband spent the morning showing the newborn off around town as their own.

Montgomery's mother, Judy Shaughnessy, told The Kansas City Star she knew something was wrong when she began receiving congratulations about being a grandmother again.

"I just said, 'Yeah, right, she either stole it or bought it," Shaughnessy told the newspaper for a story in Sunday's editions.

Montgomery had been incapable of having children since undergoing tubal ligation surgery in 1990, her family said. But Shaughnessy said her daughter was able to fool her husband, his parents and their community.

"I tried to tell them and tell them, but nobody listened," Shaughnessy said.

Montgomery's two half sisters, Patty Hedberg and Jerri Kleiner, said they also tried to warn Montgomery's in-laws that she had faked at least five pregnancies.

The sisters and their mother said they found out in November that Montgomery had purchased the kind of birth kit used by midwives to deliver babies. Kleiner said she started to worry that her sister would do something drastic to get a baby.

Starting in the late 1980s, Montgomery had four children in a little more than three years. She had her tubes tied after the fourth was born in 1990, but in 1994 she told her first husband, Carl Boman, that she was pregnant with twins.

Her half sisters said that after she met her second husband, Kevin Montgomery, in 1999, she told him twice that she was pregnant. The first time, he gave her money for an abortion, they said.

During a 2003 custody battle for her brother's newborn child after he was put in jail on drug charges, Montgomery testified at hearings that she was pregnant then, too. She later testified that she miscarried and donated the fetus to science, relatives said.

Then Montgomery announced last summer that she was again pregnant.

"All her lies were catching up with her," Shaughnessy said. "I think the desperation got to her."

Shaughnessy said that last year she had looked into having her daughter committed to a psychiatric institution but was told that probably wouldn't happen unless Montgomery harmed herself or someone else.

The FBI says Montgomery traveled to the Skidmore, Mo., home of 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett on Dec. 16, killed her and took her baby. Officials said she confessed to the crimes.

"There is a difference between evil and insane, and I think she's evil," Kleiner said.

Stinnett's mother, Becky Harper, said she wishes someone would have listened to the warnings about Montgomery's mental state.

"Let's just don't let her get off with being insane, OK, because the woman is not," Harper said.


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